Friday Morning News Roundup
One of Four Officers Investigated for Offensive Texts Resigns
One of four officers being investigated by the San Francisco Police Department for allegedly racist text messages has resigned, a police spokesman said today.
Officer Michael Robison resigned on Wednesday, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.
Esparza said that because the investigation is an internal administrative proceeding, the probe of Robison has ended as a result of his resignation. The investigation would be revived if Robison ever applied to return to the police force, he said.
The existence of the allegedly racist and homophobic messages was made public in a brief filed in federal court last week by prosecutors in the case of former Sgt. Ian Furminger, who was convicted in December of four felonies in a scheme to steal money and property seized from drug suspects.
Furminger, who resigned after being convicted, is due to begin serving a prison sentence of three years and five months on April 3.
The federal prosecutors’ filing gave several examples of offensive messages allegedly exchanged between Furminger and unnamed officers on their personal cellphones in 2011 and 2012.
The Police Department confirmed on Monday that four officers were being investigated and Chief Greg Suhr said he will ask the Police Commission to fire any who are found to be biased.
Although Robison and the other three officers have not been named by the department, their lawyers have confirmed their identities. The other three are Michael Celis, Rain Daugherty and Noel Schwab. During the probe, they have been reassigned to work in which they do not have contact with the public.
Esparza said the remaining three officers are the only members of the police force currently being investigated.
He said text messages of some other officers were looked at, but the messages were “deemed not inappropriate.”
Robison’s attorney Anthony Brass was not immediately available for comment.
One Person Injured in Structure Fire
One person was injured this morning after a structure fire broke out in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood.
Firefighters responded at 12:04 a.m. to 422 Brazil Avenue in reference to a structure fire in a garage.
Firefighters said one person was injured in the fire, but the extent of the injury was not immediately available.
Firefighters put out the blaze by 12:30 a.m.
57 Dogs Rescued from South Korean Dog Farm Arrive in SF
Humane Society International and the Change for Animals Foundation, in collaboration with local partners, have rescued 57 dogs from a South Korean dog meat farm and brought them to San Francisco for adoption into new homes.
As part of the agreement, Humane Society International got the dog farm’s owner to move into the production of more humane crops by providing assistance to make that transition possible. They also plan to follow the farmer’s progress and ensure compliance with the agreement, according to the humane society.
Back in January, HSI and the Change for Animals Foundation rescued 23 dogs from a different South Korean dog farm, where the farmer transitioned to growing blueberries, according to the humane society.
Fifteen dogs arrived today at the Mission campus of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The other 42 dogs began arriving Monday, according to HSI.
After the dogs have been evaluated and seen by a veterinarian, HSI will work with the Marin Humane Society and SPCA chapters in Sacramento and the East Bay to put them up for adoption. There are a variety of dog breeds represented in the rescued animals, including beagles, poodles, Tosas and Korean Jindos, according to HSI.
Officials with the humane society said they’re are looking to reduce the size and scope of the dog farming industry in Asia.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Adam Parascandola, HSI’s director of animal protection and crisis response, said in a statement that the Olympics marked a “clear opportunity to end the dog meat trade.”
Judge Allows Trial on Former SFPD Lawyer’s Claim that She was Unfairly Fired for Misconduct Motion Against Suhr
A former San Francisco Police Department attorney won the right today to a trial on her claim that she was wrongfully fired in 2011 in retaliation for working on a disciplinary case against Chief Greg Suhr.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith denied a request by city attorneys for a summary judgment dismissing the lawsuit filed in 2013 by Kelly O’Haire. He said a jury should decide the case.
“There are triable issues of material fact regarding whether there is a causal link between the protected conduct and the adverse employment action and whether the reasons for the termination were pretextual,” Goldsmith wrote.
The judge, referring to the future jury, also said, “The trier of fact could find that the timing of the termination decision was suspicious.”
O’Haire claims in her lawsuit against the city and Suhr that she was fired on May 16, 2011, two and one-half weeks after Suhr became chief, because she filed a disciplinary action against Suhr with the Police Commission in 2009.
The disciplinary motion alleged that Suhr, then a deputy chief, had responded to a domestic violence call from a female friend and initially failed to report the incident or arrest the perpetrator, in violation of Police Department regulations mandated by state law.
The perpetrator was later charged with attempted murder, according to the lawsuit.
Suhr was eventually suspended for five days in 2010 by then-chief George Gascon, according to a brief filed by city lawyers.
The Police Department and city attorneys have contended that O’Haire and her boss in a division that investigated police misconduct were terminated as part of a series of cost-cutting moves by Suhr to address a serious budget shortfall that he inherited.
Goldsmith today placed O’Haire’s lawsuit on the Superior Court’s master calendar for assignment to a trial judge on April 20. His ruling does not decide whether she was in fact retaliated against, but merely allows the case to move forward to a trial.
Jayme Walker, a lawyer for O’Haire, said her client “feels vindicated to finally have her day in court.”
“It means a lot to my client. She has been through hell. To get fired for doing her job was devastating,” Walker said.
Walker said she expects the trial to begin either on April 20 or shortly thereafter and estimated it will take three or four weeks.
Some claims in the lawsuit were dismissed in earlier proceedings and the case now includes a claim against the city for retaliatory termination and a claim against Suhr for intentional infliction of emotional distress, Walker said.
O’Haire worked as a San Rafael police officer for nine years before graduating from law school and becoming a prosecutor in the Marin County District Attorney’s Office in 1995. She joined the Internal Affairs Division of the San Francisco Police Department as a civilian attorney to work on misconduct cases in 2006.
Walker said O’Haire hasn’t been able to get a job as a lawyer or in city government since she was fired, and now works in human resources at a university.
The lawsuit asks for financial compensation for lost wages, future wages and emotional distress, as well as an additional punitive financial award.
13-Year-Old Girl Pulled From Mission Apartment Dies of Injuries
A 13-year-old girl who was injured in a fire in San Francisco’s Mission District last week died of her injuries Wednesday, a spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital said.
The girl was the daughter of San Francisco resident Mohamed Shaibi, who on Saturday died as a result of injuries also suffered during the early morning blaze on March 11 in the family’s apartment above Maurice’s Corner liquor store at 3046 24th St.
The name of the deceased girl has not yet been released by the San Francisco medical examiner’s office.
San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said that emergency crews performed CPR on the girl and her father and that both regained their pulses before being transported to the hospital.
At a hearing called for by San Francisco Supervisor David Campos at the Board of Supervisor’s Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee meeting this afternoon, members of the San Francisco Fire Department, including San Francisco fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, and members of the city’s Department of Building Inspection, including director Tom Hui, spoke with the supervisors about the city’s fire response and prevention efforts.
They also discussed other possibilities that could be implemented to help prevent fatal fires.
The blaze that killed the teenage girl and her father was reported at 4:29 a.m. and was extinguished at 5:01 a.m., fire officials said.
Hayes-White confirmed reports that the first engine arrived at the scene three minutes after the fire was reported, but that the first ambulance took 13 minutes to arrive at the scene.
She said the San Francisco Fire Department is trying to get that response time to less than 10 minutes, explaining that the department is required to have 90 percent of ambulances respond to major emergencies in less than 10 minutes.
Hayes-White said today that the department’s ambulances are only responding to major emergencies in less than 10 minutes 82 percent of the time.
Hayes-White said however, that once the four ambulances arrived at the scene, the fire victims were still being stabilized and were not ready to depart for hospitals right away.
According to fire officials, upon arrival at the blaze fire crews saw dark smoke billowing out of a bedroom above the front door and saw flames coming from the living room.
Firefighters rescued two brothers, a 6-year-old and a teenager, via a ladder up to the apartment window, Talmadge said.
Emergency responders performed CPR on three of the five family members injured in the blaze.
Following CPR, Shaibi and his daughter regained their pulses and the 6-year-old boy regained both his pulse and consciousness.
All three were taken to San Francisco General Hospital, Talmadge said.
Talmadge said the other two victims, the mother and the teenage son, were taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital with serious smoke inhalation injuries.
Fire crews also discovered two other people who had been sleeping illegally inside the padlocked liquor store, Talmadge said.
Firefighters cut two padlocks to free the pair from the liquor store. The pair then immediately left the scene, according to fire officials.
According to Talmadge, the family injured in the blaze owns the liquor store.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, fire officials said today.
Campos ended the hearing by urging the fire chief and the building inspection director to let him know if there are additional resources needed in their departments to ensure that they can adequately meet the safety demands of a growing, densely-populated city.