All Charges Dismissed Against William Palmer, SF Sheriff’s Dept. Oversight Board Member
Palmer spent five months in jail; DA dismissed case on the eve of trial

SAN FRANCISCO — On April 2, the SF District Attorney’s Office dismissed all charges against William Palmer, a member of the SF Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board, due to concerns about the alleged victim’s credibility. Palmer had been jailed since November after being arrested and charged with sexual assault. Palmer has always maintained his innocence, and his attorney at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office has argued that there was never any corroborating evidence supporting the alleged victim’s claims. After evidence came to light that further called into question the alleged victim’s credibility, prosecutors dismissed the charges just before a jury could be seated. 

“Mr. Palmer feels relieved and vindicated,” said Deputy Public Defender Sylvia Cediel. “He has denied these allegations from the very beginning. He lost five months of his life and livelihood being jailed on these false allegations, and I am grateful that he gets to go home.”

Palmer has been in jail for the last five months after a judge granted the DA’s motion seeking detention without bail. During that time, he relied on friends and community donations to help pay his rent so he would not lose his housing. 

Palmer is a board member of the nascent San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board, which was created in 2020 to provide independent oversight and to evaluate the work of the Inspector General who investigates complaints about sheriff’s personnel. Palmer also served on the San Francisco Sentencing Commission. Now 53, Palmer was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole at age 17 for a failed robbery of an off-duty police officer, who shot Palmer several times. He was released in 2019, and a Court of Appeal later found that his sentence amounted to excessive punishment. Since his release from prison, Palmer has become a contributing member of the community through art, journalism, radio, activism, and civic engagement.

“I commend the defense team for their thorough investigation and staunch defense of Mr. Palmer, who unfortunately had to wait for the brink of trial to get justice,” said elected San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju. “This case illustrates how important it is to push for a jury trial because it often takes that final push to make the state properly evaluate the evidence and realize that it cannot meet its burden.”

Palmer’s defense team was led by Deputy Public Defender Sylvia Cediel, second chair Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway, Investigator Collin Olsen, Paralegal Margaret Miller and Intern Charlotte Halifax.