Monday News Roundup
Man Earns Pardon from Governor Following Lengthy Sentence
Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned a man Sunday who has done extensive community work in San Francisco after a prison term for burglary, robbery, false imprisonment with violence, robbery in an inhabited house and kidnapping to commit robbery, among other crimes.
Eddy Zheng’s pardon states that since his release from prison, “he has lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conducted himself as a law abiding citizen.”
Zheng now works as a project director at the Community Youth Center of San Francisco. He also serves on commissions and councils in San Francisco such as the San Francisco Reentry Council and the Central Police Station’s Community Police Advisory Board.
Zheng has conducted more than 200 anti-violence presentations and workshops at schools and public events, according to the governor’s pardon.
Zheng was sentenced to prison in San Francisco Superior Court in 1986 and was discharged March 5, 2010, after five years of parole.
The pardon says because he completed his sentence and because of his good conduct since his release, Zheng “has paid his debt to society and earned a full and unconditional pardon.
Governor Jerry Brown Grants 83 Pardons Sunday
Gov. Jerry Brown’s office announced 83 pardons Sunday, according to the governor’s office.
A pardon by the governor may be given to individuals who have lived exemplary and productive lives following their conviction. A pardon must be earned, officials with the governor’s office said.
Ten people who committed crimes in the Bay Area earned pardons from the governor. Five of those pardoned committed crimes in Santa Clara County, two in the City and County of San Francisco, and one each in Contra Costa, Marin and Solano counties.
Officials with the governor’s office said all 83 people completed their sentences and have been released from prison for 10 years or more. All have been free of criminal convictions in the last 10 years.
Each person obtained a Certificate of Rehabilitation, which is a document from a superior court stating the person who committed the crime is now rehabilitated.
With each pardon, records with the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are updated. The California Secretary of State and the legislature each have a record of the pardons, which are public records, according to the governor’s office.
Police Chief Suhr Moves to Fire 7 Officers Who Engaged in Offensive Text Messages
San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said today that following an internal investigation he is recommending that seven of 14 police officers who were discovered to have partaken in inappropriate, and often racist and homophobic text messages, be fired from the police department.
So far, one of the 14 officers has already resigned and other may follow suit, according to police.
The internal investigation comes following the conviction in federal court of disgraced former San Francisco police Sgt. Ian Furminger, who resigned from the police department after being convicted in December of four felonies in a scheme to steal money and property seized from drug suspects.
San Francisco police were walled off from the federal investigation and prohibited, by federal protective order, from accessing the information until the conclusion of the criminal trial.
In late January, following the December convictions of Furminger and Reynaldo Vargas, the FBI provided San Francisco police and the Office of Citizen Complaints volumes of documents, including the text messages, allowing them to begin an internal investigation.
The existence of the allegedly racist and homophobic messages, which were sent to and from Furminger’s personal cellphone in 2011 and 2012, was made public in a brief filed by federal prosecutors in the case against Furminger last month.
Following the filing of the brief, four officers were found to have engaged with Furminger in these homophobic and racist texts. While the police department did not name the officers, their lawyers confirmed their identities as Michael Robison, Michael Celis, Rain Daugherty and Noel Schwab.
During the internal probe, those four officers were reassigned to work in which they did not have contact with the public, police said.
According to police, Robison resigned from the department last month and was one of the eight of the 14 members of the police department determined to have been “engaged in text messages of such extreme bias,” to lead Suhr to believe that their conduct is “incompatible with the duties of a police officer.”
While all 14 officers, including Robison, were determined to have engaged in text messages that violated department policy to varying degrees, Suhr said he recommended the San Francisco Police Commission terminate the employment of seven. Robison would have been the eighth had he not resigned.
One of the seven is a captain in the San Francisco Police Department, Suhr said.
Suhr said the behavior of those eight individuals is “reprehensible,” “disgusting” and that they “are not junior officers.”
He said he believes that there may be past cases that these individuals touched while working for the department that may be jeopardized.
San Francisco police Officer Albie Esparza said that because this is a personnel matter, Suhr couldn’t release the identity of officers involved who are still employed by the department.
After conferring with Joyce Hicks, director of the Office of Citizen Complaints, Suhr announced today that the seven officers have been suspended, and their cases have been forwarded to the Police Commission with the singular recommendation of termination.
Suhr said two of the other officers participated in single texting events that included inflammatory texts but that those messages did not rise to the level of the other eight officers.
Suhr said these two officers offered explanations that he is recommending to be heard by the Police Commission. He said they have been reassigned to non-public contact positions and that their cases have been forwarded to the Police Commission, with the recommendation of discipline, which could include termination.
Four other officers were determined to have engaged in single texting events with Furminger that did not involve hateful speech, but were determined to be violations of department policy.
Examples of that include: leaving an assigned area of responsibility, failure to notify anyone of Furminger’s messages, and dismissively responding to Furminger in a manner unbecoming an officer.
These officers will be disciplined by Suhr, who can suspend officers without pay for up to 10 days, according to police.
Furminger was named in the federal probe along with former officers Vargas and Edmond Robles.
Furminger is to begin serving a prison sentence of three years and five months today, according to the police department.
Robles was also convicted by a jury in December for conspiracy to violate civil rights, two counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program (namely, the Police Department) and theft.
He was ordered to begin serving his prison term of three years and five months on May 1.
Two weeks before the December trial Vargas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs, distribution of marijuana, conspiracy to commit theft, and theft and testified against his former colleagues.
Vargas is due to be sentenced on May 6.
Suhr said in light of this recent misconduct uncovered in the police department, the police administration will reexamine their hiring process to ensure additional biased officers do not enter the force.
The department will also randomly search officers’ files for bias and expand officer training on bias behavior.
Suhr said the cases touched by the officers are being referred to the District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office to determine if these officers were unfit to testify because of an undue bias.
Suhr said today he has “no idea” how many cases theses officers might have been involved in.