SFPD. Photo by Geri Rebstock

A formerly homeless man is taking the San Francisco Police Department to court over a 2018 incident in which the man was celebrating his new employment at a festive dinner when a police officer allegedly attacked him for no apparent reason, sending him to the hospital with a broken leg and ankle.

Clifford Bonnet, 46, additionally ended up jailed on charges that were later dropped. 

Bonnet filed his lawsuit last week in the U.S. District Court of Northern California against the City and County of San Francisco, the SFPD, and SFPD Officer Jordan King for the incident that took place last year at the Westfield Mall. 

The lawsuit alleges that, on Oct. 20, 2018, Bonnet went out to dinner at Bazille, a restaurant in Nordstrom’s at the mall. Bonnet was allegedly celebrating a new job and his journey out of homelessness. He ordered a steak — though when he asked for a steak knife, the restaurant’s management first denied him a knife and then delivered him a large chef’s knife that wasn’t suitable for eating. 

The restaurant’s management then told Bonnet to leave, the lawsuit charges. Mall security was called, and soon after, SFPD Officer King arrived. King allegedly told Bonnet to stand up, and Bonnet allegedly complied. 

“Without warning, Defendant Officer King rushed Mr. Bonnet and knocked him to the ground,” the lawsuit, filed by attorneys in the Law Offices of John L. Burris, claims. “Defendant Officer King proceeded to physically attack Mr. Bonnet, who was unarmed.” 

King allegedly “twisted” and “contorted” the 135-pound Bonnet, breaking his left tibia and ankle. Bonnet allegedly passed out, but was nevertheless forced to stand up by King, who handcuffed Bonnet. Paramedics transported Bonnet to San Francisco General Hospital, where he purportedly waited six hours to be treated. The suit states that doctors there said Bonnet required emergency surgery for his injuries — yet was released back into SFPD custody. He did not receive the surgery and, instead, spent three days in county jail. 

Bonnet was booked for resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer, said District Attorney spokesman Alex Bastian — but the DA did not pursue the charges. 

After his release from jail Bonnet received the surgery needed on his leg, according to the lawsuit. 

“We’ll review the lawsuit thoroughly when we’ve been served with it, and respond accordingly in court,” said City Attorney spokeswoman Meiling Bedard.

Bonnet — alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment rights, as well as negligence, excessive force, and battery on the part of Officer King — is suing for general monetary damages, punitive damages against King, wage loss, and other damages. 

“This incident is only the latest to a collection and trend of excessive force incidents committed by SFPD officers who are not facing any punishment as a result of their dangerous and unjustifiable actions,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint noted the case of Brandon Simpson, whom the city awarded $50,000 in a settlement, for an incident where four officers beat him on the street in the Tenderloin in December 2015. It also mentions the case of Sean Moore, a mentally disabled man whom police officers shot on his front porch in January 2017, severely injuring him. That trial is set for April.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. This is ridiculous. Everybody I know who lives in the city has seen the mentally ill and drug addicted openly attack people all over the city. Most are simply not reported because there is nothing the cops can do and probably even less now that we will soon have the awful Chesa as our do-nothing DA. While we’re told that we should be okay stepping in feces and being attacked by drug addicted and mentally people just for using public spaces in the city. And if we actually reach out to our cops, they will then sue the police for trying to help us!

  2. Is there another side to the story? From the restaurant? The police? As this story reads, the restaurant asked him to leave while for no reason whatsoever while he was sitting calmly eating his steak? Did the author of this story reach out to the restaurant for comment?

  3. Thank you, Julian Mark. We need to keep reminding SFPD why they are trying to change. Much to be discovered in this story!

    1. Eat it up, the world burns and suffers because of non sensical juvenile journalism. Not only does the news paper have a complete and total obvious bias and hatred towards police, but it never gets the facts straight and either omits or twists the facts… you my friends need to gather all the information before making a decision, my two year old is smarter than most of these police hating crowd following whiners. I just can’t understand how a person who never was in danger or fought a real scary fight can sit back and Monday morning quarterback, you disgust me !