San Francisco, CA — A suicidal man whose beating by police was captured on video will receive mental health treatment as part of a plea agreement, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
The agreement reached Tuesday between the District Attorney and Public Defender ensures that all felony charges stemming from a 49-year-old San Francisco man’s altercation with police officers are dropped. The man was charged with battery on an officer, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest causing injury to an officer.
As part of the agreement, the man pleaded guilty to one charge of battery against his building manager, which will be reduced to a misdemeanor after he completes mental health treatment as recommended by the Probation Department.
The dismissal of all charges related to police officers leaves the man free to bring a civil suit against the San Francisco Police Department, Adachi said.
Police responded to the man’s South of Market apartment after a report of him slapping his neighbor and kicking his building manager. It was the second time that day officers had been to his residence. Earlier, officers conducted a welfare check after a psychiatric social worker reported that the man was suicidal. The man apparently convinced police he was not a danger to himself or others and the incident was never reported to officers responding several hours later.
When police arrived for the second time, the man tried to provoke them to shoot him by hiding his hand behind his back and lying that he had a gun.
After police successfully subdued the man, Officer Brendan Sullivan arrived and punched the prone man at least eight times in the head and kneed him in the face. The man suffered severe bruising and cuts to his face. The beating, which was caught on a cell phone camera, was subsequently aired on a local television station, raising concerns about excessive force by police.
Following the incident, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr commented to KGO-TV that Officer Sullivan’s conduct “although not pretty… is far preferable to shooting a mentally ill person in distress.”
Adachi today called for additional use-of-force training for police officers.
“Thanks to the plea agreement reached with the District Attorney, our client will receive the help he needs,” he said. “However, this was a tragedy that was narrowly averted. It’s critical we provide sufficient training to police officers to ensure that in the future, excessive force is not used when it’s unnecessary.”