FBI Takes Over Police Misconduct Investigation from DA George Gascón
|DA George Gascon|
Following a press conference, Gascón issued a statement that U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag "has agreed to take over the full investigation" into whether police conducted improper searches for narcotics at the Henry Hotel and later committed perjury by lying about the searches in written reports.
The FBI had previously announced that it was conducting its own investigation into the incidents.
Gascón had drawn criticism from Public Defender Jeff Adachi -- who first revealed video footage contradicting officers' accounts of the searches to reporters last week -- for deciding to conduct an investigation of officers' conduct within his own office, rather than outsourcing the inquiry to an independent agency. Gascón was chief of the SFPD at the time of some of the incidents, creating a potential conflict of interest.
Dozens of cases involving the officers caught on video at the Henry Hotel have been dropped since the footage surfaced.
Adachi said today that while he thinks Gascón made a good decision by handing over the investigation to outside officials, he has concerns about how open the U.S. Attorney's office and FBI will be with their findings.
"Now that this is in the hands of the FBI, the assumption is that this will be an independent investigation," Adachi told SF Weekly. Yet he also said he has a "concern" that "there would be less transparency if it's the FBI. I would hope that's not the case."
Said Adachi, "The local DA has an obligation toward the citizens of the city. You don't have that same level of accountability with the US attorney, who is a federal official and is appointed."
Here is the full statement sent out by Gascón:
"When we first became aware of the allegations against San Francisco police officers involved in arrests at the Henry Hotel, I directed my office to open an investigation into the officers and their alleged conduct. New information has come to light that indicates it is better to turn over this investigation to the FBI.
I have spoken to the U.S. Attorney, Melinda Haag, and she has agreed to take over the full investigation. We will of course cooperate fully with the FBI, and provide whatever assistance they need from us."
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