A man is suing the city and two San Francisco police officers for allegedly “beating and punching” him near 16th and Mission streets in late June — a purported incident stemming from the officers’ attempt to arrest the man for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk.
At present, the lawsuit’s allegations are vague, and officers allegedly involved in the incident were not named in the complaint. It was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California on Sept. 3 by plaintiff Jefferey McElroy.
It does say that on June 30, McElroy, who is black, was allegedly “detained and arrested” by two officers for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk.
“Mr. McElroy ran away from officers in fear of them,” the lawsuit charges. “Defendants chased, then cornered [McElroy]. Defendants punched and beat Mr. McElroy while he was unarmed and submissive.”
The complaint goes into little more detail. But McElroy’s lawyer, Patrick Buelna of the Law Offices of John L. Burris, said that McElroy suffered “contusions of lacerations consistent with the beating,” based on his understanding.
Buelna said his office is waiting for the police department to provide documents and body-worn camera footage of the incident to file more specific charges. “We don’t like to make premature allegations,” he said.
He added that the case was worth pursuing because the charges for which McElroy was being arrested were dismissed. “That gives me reason to believe his allegation that the officers stopped him unlawfully and didn’t have probable cause or sufficient evidence to stop him at all,” Buelna said.
The District Attorney’s office did not respond to messages regarding what the specific charges were and whether they were, indeed, dropped. The City Attorney’s Office also did not respond to a request for comment.
Buelna said McElroy “will not be making comments at this time.”
The lawsuit asks for various damages, including wage loss, medical expenses, and attorney fees. McElroy is also asking for injunctive relief for the SFPD to collect racial stop data (which it already does) and “institute training to alleviate racial bias within the department,” which it does, but so far to little effect.
The SFPD is currently redrafting its anti-bias policies, as racial bias continues to plague the department.
On the whole, the SFPD’s use-of-force is on the decline. Since 2016, when the department adopted a new use-of-force policy, use-of-force has dropped 30 percent, according to department data. A small percentage of cops in 2018 — 25 percent — repeatedly used force.
Yet that trend was bucked by officers at Mission Station — they remain among the roughest officers in the SFPD. Approximately 78 percent of Mission Station’s roughly 160 officers in 2018 were flagged by a department system designed to identify problematic officers. By comparison, only 30 percent of the roughly 160 officers at Tenderloin Station were flagged.
“We see that the Mission Station has by far the most alerts for a station … ” said Police Commission President Bob Hirsch at a March police commission meeting. “I’m just wondering: What does the department do with numbers like this? Because they jump out at us.”