Friday, January 8, 2010 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco—A woman who was injured and falsely arrested by police in September has been acquitted of battery upon an officer and resisting arrest, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Tisha Harvey, a 29-year-old teacher’s aide for disabled preschoolers, is currently cooperating with an Office of Citizen Complaints investigation against the police officer involved in the incident. Jurors unanimously found Harvey not guilty on December 31 after deliberating for one day.
On September 2, 2009, Harvey, who had no criminal history, was handcuffed and thrown to the ground by a San Francisco Police Department officer who claimed she ran a stop sign at Rutland Street and Sunnydale Avenue. Through police dispatch records presented at trial, Deputy Public Defender Serena Orloff established that the officer believed Harvey’s 2008 Chevrolet Impala was a stolen vehicle and fabricated the stop sign violation as a reason to approach the mother of two after she parked in front of a neighborhood community center.
During the week-long trial, jurors heard Harvey’s voice on a police radio recording pleading to know why she was being arrested. After the officer threw her to the ground and kept her there, handcuffed, with his knee in her back, Harvey called to nearby bystanders to contact a community worker from the nearby center to help her communicate with the officer. Jurors were shown photo documentation of the multiple bruises Harvey suffered in the incident.
The officer told a markedly different story under oath, testifying that Harvey struck him in the chest and, once handcuffed, tried to incite a growing crowd to attack him. While no evidence was presented to back up that version of events, witness accounts corroborated Harvey’s testimony that she was only yelling for the community worker to help mediate the situation.
“The officer had been on the force for barely a year and I believe he was woefully out of touch with the people and the neighborhood he was sworn to protect,” Orloff said. “The frightening part is that what happened to Ms. Harvey could happen to anyone. She was a law-abiding citizen on her way to pick up her child from daycare.”