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Off-Duty SF Police Officer Alleges He Was Beaten by Three Fellow Officers

| May 31, 2013
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San Francisco Police Department (Andres Barraza/KQED)

San Francisco Police Department (Andres Barraza/KQED)

The San Francisco Police Department says it’s investigating a Thursday night incident in which one of its off-duty officers was allegedly roughed up during an arrest by three other officers in the Bayview District.

The Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, said the three arresting officers were white–a detail the Police Department would not confirm Friday afternoon. He condemned the episode as racial profiling and demanded Mayor Ed Lee and other city leaders launch an investigation.

The incident, which police say is under investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs Division, involved Officer Lorenzo Adamson Jr., a 15-year veteran officer. A department spokesperson who declined to be recorded for broadcast or to be quoted by name told KQED reporter Charla Bear that Adamson was pulled over at about 8:20 p.m. Thursday near Third Street and Newcomb Avenue in the Bayview neighborhood. The spokesperson said two officers made the initial stop because Adamson was driving a car with no license plates and because the vehicle had dark-tinted front passenger’s and driver’s windows.

The spokesperson said Adamson carried no personal identification, was in possession of a firearm, and became “non-compliant” after the stop. “Apparently Officer Adamson is a very large male,” the spokesperson said, “and when he became non-compliant and it deteriorated into a physical altercation, those two officers were unable to handcuff and detain Officer Adamson, so they requested additional units to come and assist.” The spokesperson said Adamson didn’t identify himself as a police officer until after he was in the midst of a struggle with the arresting officers.

Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, who has specialized in police use-of-force cases, confirmed to KQED News that he is representing Adamson and says his client was “wrongfully beaten up” by the arresting officers.

The NAACP’s Brown said the incident was a clear case of profiling because as soon as officers stopped Adamson, one of them asked whether he was on parole. “That is the stereotypical image that unfortunately in this nation is held of black men,” Brown said. “… What this officer was doing was reflecting the mentality and attitude that all black men are ex-offenders, on probation, or potential perpetrators of crime. This must stop.”

Brown also suggested that asking Adamson whether he was on parole was a violation of San Francisco Police Department rules. But the department spokesperson–again, he wouldn’t be quoted by name–said it is “common” for officers to ask subjects they approach whether they are on probation or parole; if they are on parole or probation, then the ground rules for searches and seizures change, he said. He added that the department leaves it to officers’ discretion whether to make the inquiry.

The incident has the potential to renew a controversy over a disparity in arrest rates by race in the city.

According to a study published in August 2012 by Shoshana Walter of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), African-Americans are at least seven times more likely to be arrested than whites in San Francisco.

The gap between the arrest rates for whites and African Americans in San Francisco is well above state and national averages, the CIR analysis found.

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Category: Law and Justice, News

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  • Bumper

    No one is asking why Adamson was off duty, with a pistol and no drivers license, sfpd id or badge, and driving a car with numerous code violations? And why didnt he initially i.d. himself and declare is pistol?

  • Bobby224466

    This Is B.S…..Read His History,,He’s A Bad cop looking for A free Ride, this A case of Reverse Racism……..The Truth will Come Out……

    • thucy

      Thank you for that. Are you paid to post such libel by the PBA?

  • miss415

    Any information given about the incident thus far is from the SFPD so I hope Adamson issues a statement so we can hear his version.

  • Tired of the BS.

    I am a law abiding Chinese guy – native to seeing the changes and people in the City for the last 50 years and I have been asked if I was on parole or probation when I got pulled over ’cause I too was driving a car without plates and I do did not have ID. I cooperated with the cop and he let me go with a citation for no plates (especially today, they use plates for the GG bridge, fast pass, parking lots, meter tracking and all that)… So as for the cops being racist… maybe but they did the same to me and given the described situation, I don’t think so… Also, if Adamson understands cops as family and in all that blue line stuff, I would say, a normal cop would ID himself immediately to his fellow officers… if not, Adamson is looking for trouble or a good settlement or trying to prove a point and it is stupid people like that that shouldn’t be a cop.

    • thucy

      Dear “Tired”:
      Cops are not “family”, they are servants to the taxpaying public, and thus should not be toeing a “blue line”, period.
      SFPD has serious corruption within its ranks, and its union is a major factor in abetting that corruption.
      Don’t even get me started on their lack of transparency, abuse of overtime, and false claim that they have the most dangerous job.
      Being a cop in the US is only the 10th most dangerous job in the country, after #9… garbagemen. Look it up in the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Elizabeth Frantes

    There are good cops and there are bad cops. We have a sergeant who raced a sportscar in the Broadway tunnel at “excessive speed” and was apparently also DUI . .. there are those cops who feel they are above the law. They need to go into politics, if they feel that way. A cop should know how to “comply” with being pulled over . .when I was growing up, we called it “passing the attitude test” by being meek and compliant with cops . . . it worked every time for me.

    • thucy

      “there are those cops who feel they are above the law.”

      The problem, Ms. Frantes, is that SFPD used to be nominally accountable. Currently, the records for those “bad cops” are entirely redacted – I’ll check my notes, but I believe the official redactions started in 2004? As a result, the taxpayer has no idea even how much settlement money the City’s paying out due to police abuse. Let alone who the abusers are.
      SFPD was the highest paid urban police force in 2010 at 82k starting salary – literally twice the Starting salary of NYPD, who have a much, much, much tougher job. But even NYPD is more transparent when it comes to public records of its own abusive officers.

  • Bill

    I think those officers are wrong! Its rediculous that this man had to be beaten by multiple cops! He never ran from them or struck them so why is it necessary for all the physical stuff! Grown men argue all day, so why did these cops feel the need to have to wrestle him down! Cop or not!

    • Rick001

      You have never been a police officer who is arresting a non-compliant person with a gun….. You make a poor armchair quarter back.

  • Vance Morgan

    It’s hard to know who to believe here, the typical unethical lying cop, or the typical unethical lying cop. It’s a well known fact that the people that tend to go into law enforcement have severe mental stability issues, are more likely to commit murder than the general public (based on FBI statistics), and are held to lower standards than the general public (based on statistics of punishments for the same crimes by police vs. general public).

  • Black and proud

    To Tired of the bs.
    I’m a 62 year old black female who live in the Bayview District. I was giving my friend another 65 yr old black female and her granddaughter a ride home one day when I was pulled over for not having the up to date tags on my car. I reached into my glove compartment to get the registration and the proof of insurance and the tags were on my registration. I beleive the officer was correct for pulling me over he was doing his job but heres where the problem started when the officers both white said they thought I had been drinking and me and my freind laughed because I don’t drink. I was told if I didn’t shut up he would pull me out of the car. I told him i would love to see him pull me out of the car and the next morning I was at the Mayors office with a complant. Blacks in San Francisco are treated different from Asians and Whites just face it.

  • Shorty nature

    Lorenzo always carries three pieces of ID. Duh!

  • Jake148

    Adamson is a bad cop. He is driving a car with no plates, tinted windows, a gun on his person, and no I.D. It is clear he was looking for a cop to stop him so he could pick a fight, get arrested and the sue for money that we the tax payers will have to come up with. ADAMSON clearly in the wrong and playing the race game for all he can get.

    • Rick001

      I agree with you I think those cops were set up.