I Thought I Was Going to Die

Pilar Baglieri’s voice wavered with tears as she described to a room of 40 residents at the Mission Police Station Tuesday night how an undercover officer put a gun to her 19-year-old son Ernesto’s head and screamed profanities in front of their house on Hampshire Street around 7 p.m. on Sept. 17.

“To point a gun so aggressively without any grounds, it was very scary,” she said.

The incident happened just after Ernesto and his girlfriend left the house to pick up his younger brother. They were sitting in his car out front when a car with its headlights off approached slowly.

One of the two men in the car asked Ernesto if he was stealing the car and if he had hit the car in front of him. That car belonged to his father.

“With this attitude, some police are creating anger and hate in the community,” Pilar Baglieri said to Police Captain Steve Tacchini who holds the regular monthly meetings at the 630 Valencia Street Station.

“Police officers don’t want to inflame a community,” responded Tacchini, whose ability to address individual cases in a public meeting is limited. He asked for the officers’ badge numbers and promised to have the incident investigated by the Office of Citizen Complaints.

That night,  Baglieri said, he got out of the car. So did one of the officers, who pointed a gun at his head before showing a badge and started screaming at  him.  Baglieri has close-cropped hair, a clean-cut style and wears a diamond studded “SF” earring in one ear and a Bluetooth earpiece in the other.

“I thought I was going to die,” he told Mission Loc@l at the monthly community meeting at the Mission District station. Baglieri is currently a student at the College of Marin studying Business Real Estate.

Instead, he was slammed down on the roof of the car and cuffed—with the gun still pointed at him, Ernesto said. His girlfriend, who was sitting in the front seat, was screaming.

It was the yelling and swearing that brought Pilar to the window. She didn’t realize that the man pointing a gun at her son was an undercover agent until other police cars approached.

“It’s a good thing I’m healthy, otherwise I would’ve had a heart attack,” she said.

Police were uncommunicative when she demanded to know his charges, she said.

One of the officers later said they had received an anonymous tip that people were using drugs in the car. The Baglieris were skeptical because Ernesto hadn’t been in the car more than a few minutes and doubted that police would have responded so swiftly to a call of that nature.

The police released Ernesto after running his plates and identification, realizing they had no grounds to hold him, he said. They whole incident was over in 15 minutes.

Pilar said her son is still having nightmares.

She worries what would have happened if she and her family, who’ve lived on Hampshire Street for 25 years, hadn’t rushed outside to deescalate the situation.

Filed under: Front Page, Trouble

10 Comments

  1. ChunkyDoRight

    I can totally understand that Ernesto and his family think this was an example of overreaction by the police. The cops should identify themselves clearly – when the officer’s gun comes out of their holster, the officer should shout, in this order, “POLICE! FREEZE!” Yes, just like in the movies…

    Just seeing an unmarked car pull up with no lights at night would freak anyone out, and some people will prepare to defend themselves against such obviously suspicious behavior, not realizing that cops are behind the wheel instead of a robber/gangster/etc. That’s a recipe for tragedy.

  2. tonyboysf

    Feeling trapped between violent gangs and similarly violent police officers? What’s an unarmed, law abiding citizen supposed to do?

  3. notme

    A similar thing happened to me and a friend of mine in the Mission more than 10 years ago. We were siting in a car talking and someone walked up to the car and said, “Roll down the window. I have a gun.” The windows had fogged, so I could not see it was a cop. He didn’t identify himself as a cop. I almost started the car and attempted to drive away as I thought we were being car jacked. My friend rolled down the window and his gun came in against her head. It got even messier. We DID lodge a complaint with the Office of Citizen Complaints. Turns out someone had called 911 to report two people having sex in a car. We weren’t, but even if we were, does that warrant deadly force? So what happened to the case? We independently identified all officers involved. (There were a LOT of them. I guess people having sex in a car draws a lot of police attention.) The officers’ stories conflicted. We had an attorney. The Office of Citizen Complaints lost our file. OK, now what? Nothing. Case closed.

  4. Dean Mingo

    It is unpleasant when things fall apart. A celebration turns into a fight which becomes a homicide. The police sensing escalation increase their presence. They stop, question, and release an individual who only moments later evidently seeks reprisal for death with two more. The police are criticized for not stopping the actions if proven will put a person in prison for a long time and three others in a cemetry. The police ask themselves, “how could have we prevented both but especially the second tragedy”. The answer it seems was closer scrutiny. It is a cycle of fire. The real question is how can we help people from becoming so angry with each other.

  5. Moe

    U think they would do this in nobhill? They do this cause they know they can get away with it!!!!!!!!! Then they wonder why people don’t trust the police!!!!!!!!

  6. Israel

    I can completely understand what Ernesto is going through. Police here, especially undercover police officers feel they have the power to stop someone with extreme exaggerative force here in the Mission.
    I was walking on Hampshire one day after school with my hands in my hooded sweater pocket when a car stopped right in front of me and 3 guys rushed me and held me down. They had their badges around their necks but searched me unjustly because they thought i was holding a gun..

    could they have done this and handled mine and Ernesto’s incident another way?

    Yes. But here. They choose not to, because they can get away with it. Anywhere else, yeah right..

  7. tony corleone

    the police in the mission especially the undercovers are a load of…
    i agree with everybody else if this was nob hill or pac heights theres no way this would go down.
    someone needs to do put an end to this abusive force that some police officers believe there entitled to.IT IS WRONG AND ESPECIALLY AGAINST OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!!!

  8. don't shoot your neighbors

    no, it wouldn’t happen in Nob Hill, but then again, the people in Nob Hill aren’t holding pizza shootouts either

  9. Marco

    Any information about whether Ernesto had any gang affiliations? This may explain the police response.

  10. Daniel

    If I was a cop I’d probably get the hell out of SF and head for some small town, where people still respect the law. Here if crime happens you get blamed for not doing enough. Go out there and be proactive every one monday morning quarterbacks your moves. Don’t forget everyone’s a victim when they have an unfavorable interaction with the police.

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