Wednesday, April 26, 2017 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco—A judge threw out a slew of charges against a man who was shot by San Francisco Police Department officers while unarmed on the steps to his home, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ross on Tuesday dismissed eight of 10 charges against Sean Moore, including two counts of assault on an officer, two counts of battery with injury, two counts of deterrence by threats, felony resisting arrest causing injury and misdemeanor resisting arrest.
Moore, who has remained in jail since the Jan. 6 shooting, now faces a single felony count, battery with serious bodily injury, for allegedly punching one of the officers after the officer hit him twice with a baton. He also faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly violating a restraining order by banging on a wall.
Ross noted during Tuesday’s hearing that he was dismissing the charges because the two rookie officers, Kenneth Cha and Colin Patino, were acting outside the scope of their duties when they remained on Moore’s property after Moore declined to be questioned. The officers had been dispatched to investigate a noise complaint.
“The officers effectively became trespassers on Mr. Moore’s property,” said Moore’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Brian Pearlman. “Mr. Moore told them to leave nearly 40 times before they pepper sprayed him, hit him with batons, and ultimately opened fire.”
Moore was shot in the groin and abdomen and has undergone multiple surgeries.
The case has raised questions about appropriate training for officers dealing with mentally ill citizens. Moore lives with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Neither Cha nor Patino had undergone crisis intervention training. Both officers had less than a year of experience on the street, yet were paired together.
It has also exposed problems with San Francisco’s probes of officer involved shootings. The officers gave virtually identical initial statements to investigators after consulting with their shared attorney. They were allowed to watch footage of the encounter and discuss it with their attorney privately before being questioned by investigators.
In a March preliminary hearing, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman called the practice “troubling,” stating, “..the written statements that both of these officers prepared and read during the course of the interview were nearly word-for-word, verbatim, identical to one another. And that suggests a degree of coordination, if not collusion.”
Adachi called on the district attorney to drop the remaining charges against Moore, saying the decision to go forward with the case reflects a deep hypocrisy.
“Earlier this month, the district attorney declined to file charges against officers who shot a different man, Amilcar Lopez-Perez, in the back, stating he couldn’t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Adachi said. “But in this case, prosecutors have no qualms about trying to further punish a police violence victim even after two judges have called the strength of the case into question.”
Moore’s trial is scheduled for Friday. Pearlman said he will argue for Moore to be released on his own recognizance.