Tuesday, May 17, 2011 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A San Francisco police officer accused of stealing items from a man’s residential hotel room following a drug arrest has been captured on video in a second incident, appearing to leave a residence at the Julian Hotel with property never booked into evidence.
The video, released today by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, comes less than a week after Adachi released surveillance footage documenting a similar incident on Dec. 30 at the Jefferson Hotel.
The new footage stems from a Feb. 25, 2011 illegal search and drug arrest by Mission Station officers Ricardo Guerrero, Reynaldo Vargas, Jacob Fegan, Christopher Servat and Adam Kujath. Guerrero, Vargas and Fegan were also involved in the Jefferson Hotel incident.
In the most recent video, officers can be seen walking into the building empty-handed. However, Guerrero is later seen leaving with property that appears to be consistent with a laptop inside a bag, which was confirmed missing from the room later that day along with a camera. Vargas is carrying a second bag containing unknown items. Neither bag was booked into evidence.
Officers arrested resident Jesus “Jessie” Reyes, 64, for possession for sale of methamphetamine. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Reyes May 4 after Guerrero failed to show up to testify despite a subpoena. Reyes had never before been arrested, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Cindy Elias.
Adachi called the conduct “outrageous.”
“This incident, coupled with similar footage at the Henry, Royan and Jefferson hotels, indicates there are groups of officers engaging in systematic misconduct,” he said.
In the police report, written by Fegan, police claim Reyes matched a description provided by a confidential informant and stopped him as he sat in his minivan. Fegan wrote that Reyes agreed to let police search his van and then offered to let them search his room.
In Reyes’ sworn declaration, however, he states that at no time did police ask his permission to search the van and that he never consented to any search. Police did not respond when Reyes asked if they had an arrest warrant, he said. According to Reyes, officers searched his person, took his keys and searched his room while he waited outside the room with Fegan. Reyes specifically told police not to search his room and asked if they had a search warrant, but was ignored, he said. After being booked into jail, Reyes’ reading glasses were taken from him and he was asked to sign a form that he believed was to return his personal property. He did not learn he had signed a search consent form until he went to court.
When Reyes was released from jail, his wife—the only other person with keys to the room—informed him that their nephew’s laptop computer was missing. A Sony Cybershot 12-megapixel camera was also missing.
Surveillance video from the property will be posted later today at youtube.com/sfpublicdefender.