San Francisco Finally Apologizes to Bobby Badfingers for His Six Days in Jail
"On behalf of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, we write to express our regret for the unfortunate delay in releasing you from the Sheriff's custody once the District Attorney decided not to prosecute you after your arrest on Feb. 20, 2008," said the statement, dated Jan. 21.
The letter, plus a $16,500 settlement, is all Badfingers, also known as Robert Von Merta, has to show for his 2009 lawsuit, where he demanded $1 million for false imprisonment.
Badfingers maintains that he was falsely arrested in 2008 after his nephew called 911 to complain he was being assaulted. Badfingers sent SF Weekly a declaration from his mother, which said that Badfingers had seen his nephew in her San Francisco bedroom yelling "at the top of his lungs" at her, and Badfingers pulled the nephew out of the room.
Badfingers claims police did not interview him, or his mother, before locking Badfingers behind bars. He spent the next six days entertaining guards and other inmates with his finger-snapping prowess while he awaited his release.
Badfingers' eventual lawsuit hinged on whether police had probable cause to arrest him. He said officers were negligent for not interviewing him or his mother. But he decided in the end to accept a small settlement rather than risk a jury trial.
"We have a fair settlement that avoids the cost of taking the case to trial," said a spokesman for City Attorney Herrera. "The wheels of justice can move slowly, but the important thing is we achieved a just result."
Badfingers, who resides in San Jose, has been a Bay Area legend since the 1980s, when he appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, performing the drum solo of the Surfaris' 1962 hit, "Wipe Out" with finger-snaps instead of drumsticks. In 2004, SF Weekly writer Bernice Yeung noted that,
The list of things that are excellent about Bobby Badfingers is nearly endless; in fact, we haven't been so unabashedly enthusiastic about a live act since we heard Charo had a new thing going in Vegas. But there's more: Badfingers, who just shot a commercial for Yahoo!, is in the midst of establishing a "finger-snapping media empire" by creating a how-to book and instructional DVD titled "Snapology 101 for Whippersnappers." He's also commissioned a cartoon called "Snapmaster Badfingers and His Homies."We're glad to see some sort of closure to Badfingers' ordeal. But three lines from the City Attorney hardly seems sufficient, given what the great man went through.
So, from the San Franciscans at The Snitch, we're very sorry this happened, and we sincerely hope nothing like this ever happens again.
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