Monday, March 7, 2011 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — Newly-released surveillance footage from the Henry Hotel reveals a man was falsely arrested for drug possession by officers currently under federal investigation for perjury and conducting illegal searches.
The footage of the Dec. 2, 2010 arrest was released this afternoon by private defense attorney Scott Sugarman during a press conference held at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. Sugarman’s case is the fourth video that has surfaced since last week that sharply contradicts police reports signed by officers under penalty of perjury. It is the third case involving the Henry Hotel in SOMA. The four other incidents in the widening scandal involve Public Defender’s Office cases.
The most recent video involves Southern Station officers Arshad Razzak, Raul Elias and Raymond Kane, who are implicated in previous videos showing illegal searches in residential motels. Also involved are Southern Station Sgt. Samuel Christ and Officer Gregory Buhagiar.
In the video, Sugarman’s client, a 29-year-old man, is seen walking into the Henry Hotel and ascending the stairs wearing a black jacket. Moments later, police using a master key enter the sixth floor room of two women suspected of selling drugs, where the man is a visitor. Officers find a white and gold jacket slung over a chair with drugs in the pocket and no identification.
According to Razzak’s police report, Buhagiar states that he witnessed Sugarman’s client walk into the hotel wearing the same white and gold jacket.
“My client told officers repeatedly that it was not his jacket, that his jacket was right next to him,” Sugarman said. “Police never put his statements in their report, never checked the video and never booked the black jacket into evidence.”
The man, who served three weeks in jail over the incident, was freed when prosecutors dropped the case after a preliminary hearing. Sugarman provided stills from the video that show his client wearing a black jacket.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said the latest incident confirms a disturbing trend in which police officers do not act in pursuit of the truth.
“This was an innocent man who was framed,” Adachi said. “He committed no crime and was arrested simply because he had the misfortune of visiting the Henry Hotel.”
The latest footage brings the number of videotaped misconduct incidents involving SFPD officers to four. Other incidents include:
- A Dec. 23, 2010 illegal search at the Henry Hotel, in which police falsified a report to justify entering a residence without a warrant.
- A New Year’s Eve drug arrest at the Mission District’s Hotel Royan in which police kicked down the door of a disabled man with a service dog. There is no record of police confirming the man’s misdemeanor bench warrant until after his arrest.
- A Jan. 5, 2011 incident at the Henry Hotel where an officer is shown covering the surveillance camera with his hand while his colleagues illegally enter and search a residence.