San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin accused of withholding evidence in officer misconduct case

Stangel is accused of unnecessarily beating a man named Dacari Spiers with a baton in October 2019

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A whistleblower on Friday accused San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin of withholding evidence in the case of a police officer accused of using unnecessary force against a civilian, according to local reports.

Boudin first announced charges against San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Officer Terrance Stangel in December 2020. Stangel is accused of unnecessarily beating a man named Dacari Spiers with a baton in October 2019, breaking Spires' wrist and leg, while responding to a domestic violence call.

Magen Hayashi, an investigator for the DA's office, testified Friday that she felt she would be fired if she did not withhold certain evidence in the case against Stangel, according to NBC Bay Area.

Hayashi told a San Francisco Superior Court judge that she never disclosed information from a female witness who claimed to see Spiers beating a woman before Stangel hit him with a baton and that she feared she would be fired if she did, the outlet reported.

Chesa Boudin, 39, a fourth district attorney candidate, shares his thoughts during the SF City Insider podcast at the San Francisco Chronicle in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, August 28, 2019. (Photo By Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Chesa Boudin, 39, a fourth district attorney candidate, shares his thoughts during the SF City Insider podcast at the San Francisco Chronicle in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, August 28, 2019. (Photo By Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

The judge reportedly said no significant evidence appeared to have been withheld, and Hayashi's testimony likely would not impact the case, according to The San Francisco Chronicle

Stangel's attorney, Nicole Pifari, filed a motion to dismiss the case on Jan. 24, citing "prosecutorial misconduct" and "deceptive" methods by the DA's office. 

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"The DA’s deceit and concealment of real evidence is disturbing, it is corrupt, and it is a violation of public trust," the motion states. "Most importantly, however, it is illegal."

The memo in support of the motion to dismiss filed by Pifari includes a transcript from the witness to 911, which is what initially led police to respond to the 2019 incident.

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The call transcript reads as follows: "I would like to report…I think it's called domestic violence or something because, um, there's this guy who is beating up on this girl. … He's like, um, holding her like by the neck, like draggin' her by the neck. … She was trying to get away, then he grabbed, and then he got her again."

A second witness described similar details in a statement including in Pifari's motion.

SFPD bodycam footage from Dacari Spiers/ Torrance Stangel incident (SFPD/ Vimeo)

SFPD bodycam footage from Dacari Spiers/ Torrance Stangel incident (SFPD/ Vimeo)

Spiers filed a federal lawsuit against the city of San Francisco in February 2020, which states that he was "consoling his girlfriend about the theft" of her wallet before the attack, "and the two were leaning against the car and were engaged in hugging and kissing each other."

The lawsuit then alleges that two or more officers approached Spiers at that moment and abruptly grabbed him. Spiers and his girlfriend begged the officers to stop, and he was left with "horrendous blows with his hands and wrists, which caused severe injuries, including a severely broken wrist," the complaint states. Spier is accusing the city of violating his civil rights.

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Video footage of the incident released last year shows a chaotic scene in which Spiers questions officers' use of force, saying he didn't do anything. 

Assistant District Attorney Hans Moore described the motion to dismiss as "giant stinking smokescreen designed to inform the press and general public about the (defense’s) perspective," the Chronicle reported.

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The judge in the case has issued a gag order against all parties; neither Boudin's office nor Pifari could give statements to media in response to Hayashi's testimony as a result.

A Twitter account representing an organization campaigning to recall Boudin shared an apparent email from San Francisco Police Chief William Scott to staff saying Hayashi's testimony "is of great concern" to him.

"…I am exploring options as to how these new developments impact our department and criminal investigations," he wrote in the email.

A person can be heard screaming in the background as Spiers is forced to the ground.

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When Boudin's office initially announced its complaint against Stangel, Keith Baraka, a member of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office’s African American Advisory Board and the second vice chair on San Francisco’s DCCC, issued a statement saying "police officers must be held accountable for acts of brutality they commit against those they have sworn to protect and serve."

"As the murder of George Floyd drew attention worldwide to police abuse of Black men, we must also remember that police violence comes in many forms—including through the dehumanization that results when officers treat Black men like criminals.  I am grateful to District Attorney Boudin for valuing Black lives and for refusing to excuse police violence," Baraka said.