Threats or payback? - Page 2

Activist arrested after criticizing the SFPD and its tactics on television

Debray Carpenter was arrested after criticizing the police in protests and on television

The police arrested Carpenter four days later and booked him for allegedly making terrorizing threats and resisting arrest. While in jail Carpenter told his lawyer, John Hamasaki, that he didn't know why he had been arrested and Hamasaki said at the time he wasn't sure either.

"The arrest stinks," Hamasaki told us. "Just an exercise of power by the police letting folks know if they speak up, they can be locked up."

The District Attorney's Office said that it declined to file charges because there was insufficient evidence to secure a conviction but declined to go into further detail.

"It is not uncommon for the District Attorney to drop charges that are against the police," said Dangerfield, the police spokesman. "Unless there's injuries, photos and things like that, they rarely want to prosecute a lot of threats against police officers, and even more resisting arrest, because they think that's the type of business we're in."

"That's bullshit," said Hamasaki. "(Crimes against police are) the hardest things for us to negotiate to get them to come down. ... The DA doesn't want to upset the rank and file."

Erica Derryck, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, also disagreed with Dangerfield's assessment.

"We take seriously any threats against San Franciscans whether they are uniformed sworn officers or members of the general public," Derryck said. "We review every case on a case-by-case basis."

Carpenter says he isn't the only one being targeted for his activism in Hunters Point. Police arrested Henry Taylor, 54, as he was on his way to speak up at the July 20 town hall meeting at the Bayview Opera House in which Chief Greg Suhr's appearance ignited pandemonium (see "Anger erupts over police shootings," July 27).

Dangerfield said that police arrested Taylor for violating a stay-away order, but Taylor says that he isn't under a stay-away order for that area and that police arrested him to prevent him from testifying at the town hall meeting.

No recordings are known to exist between Carpenter and the officer, just as no video recordings have revealed exactly what happened between Harding and the police on the 3rd Street Muni platform. There are several videos of the immediate aftermath, including footage of Harding writhing on the ground while police raised their weapons and denied him first aid, but apparently no video of the shooting itself. In Oakland, all officers are now issued small cameras to wear on their uniforms that record every interaction an officer has with the public. In the case of both Carpenter and Harding, such equipment would likely provide answers to what actually transpired, but Dangerfield said the SFPD has no plans to follow Oakland's lead. "I know the chief of police has said he is looking into cameras for officers who do plain clothes assignments, and warrant arrests, and things like that. For the general patrol force, at this point, that's not the case," Dangerfield said. "There are some officers who do carry their own. ... There's no rule that says that can't be done."

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