- This Week
Party people, watch out: undercover cop Larry Bertrand has declared war on San Francisco nightlife
Guardian illustration of Larry Bertrand by Joel Kimmel
Earlier, when the party was in full swing, a 24-year-old California State University, Fullerton student visiting from Los Angeles says when the fire marshal entered, Bertrand flashed his badge, yelling at everybody to get out. "It was really aggressive from the get-go," said the Fullerton student, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he had a pending legal case. "It's very hard for me to describe the intensity to which this guy was busting down doors."
Later, the young man from L.A. said, he was following people who left in a rush, and ran to catch up. "Shortly after, I felt a blow to the back right of my head," he said. "My glasses flew off, and I was tackled to the ground. My forehead was being pushed straight into the ground and they were holding my hair. I kept repeating ... please, I can't see — I'm legally blind. I thought three or four officers were on top of me, and they were saying, 'Fuck you, you little anarchist punk.'<0x2009>"
That's when he said he felt a sensation like "a bunch of really intense bee stings on my left side, just above my hipbone." He thought he was Tasered — and photos he showed us depict a skin burn. SFPD officers are not authorized to carry Tasers.
"It sounds like a stun gun, not a Taser gun," Ken Cooper, a firearms and Taser instructor based in New York, noted when the incident was described to him.
When we shared the photos with SFPD's media relations department, Lt. Lyn Tomioka noted, "I can tell you that we do not have any tool that would produce the type of wounds shown in the picture that you attached, or produce a stinging sensation."
The L.A. visitor said he was delivered this explanation from an officer while in the holding cell: "One of your anarchist buddies must've had a Taser, ran over to you trying to get one of our officers, got you instead, and ran away."
Cooper Brislain, a Web developer from Santa Cruz, told us his iMac was destroyed that night. A friend of the owners of the art space, he was there doing video mixing for the party, he explained. After the trouble started, he began carrying his computer and mixing equipment toward the door. "The uniformed officers were going to let me go. I told them, 'I just came here to perform.' They seemed OK," he said. Then he encountered Bertrand.
"He ... grabbed me by the collar, led me over toward the wall, and sat me down," Brislain told us. He says Bertrand and Ott seized his computer. Brislain says no charges were filed against him.
The morning after, he found that his computer had been smashed up. His friends found it in pieces at the bottom of the stairs. To this day, he says he has not been able to retrieve his ID, which was seized that night. "I tried calling [Bertrand] on his extension to leave a message and never heard back," he says. "They told me he probably wouldn't return voicemails." The District Attorney's Office has a different perspective. D.A. spokesperson Brian Buckelew said the partygoers were drunk and "going nuts on police." People were throwing firecrackers, he said. "It obviously got out of hand, and people were throwing bottles at police," he said.
The student from L.A. allegedly shoved a female officer, Buckelew said. According to the report, he said, police officers were taking someone into custody, and he tried to pull them free.