Ingleside Station, Monday morning, March 16, 2020

At around 8:40 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, Gigi Tonguet stepped outside of her Excelsior District apartment to wait for a food delivery. After lighting a cigarette, she noticed a man standing across the street. 

It was not the delivery person. 

“I instantly got chills,” said Tonguet, 33. “Instead of continuing walking, he just stared at me and arched his back and started slowly walking towards me.” 

The man was wearing some kind of white hooded robe, she recalled, and he carried a sharp, metallic object in his hand. As Tonguet moved to go back inside, she said, the man charged at her, yelling: “Where do you think you’re going?” 

The woman ran inside as fast as she could and just barely slammed the door shut. The man attempted to push it open, and Tonguet saw him use the sharp object to stab at the glass. “I thought he was going to break the glass,” she said. 

Tonguet tried to run up the stairs to her apartment, but her legs “felt like noodles,” and she fell down the stairs, bruising her arms and bumping her head, causing what she described as a concussion. When she gathered herself and finally reached her apartment moments later, she called 911. 

“I was reacting and realizing that he could have killed me,” she said.

Police tracked down the man minutes later. After a standoff, he was apprehended. Shortly after the incident, a 911 dispatcher told Tonguet what had happened, and that the man was in police custody, she said. Tonguet said she wanted to give a statement to police, and the dispatcher said she’d receive a call. 

A call never came. And, to the surprise of Tonguet and her partner, Julian Ostrow, police discouraged them from reporting the crime, the couple alleges. 

That Thursday, after learning through regularly updated crime data that the man was in custody on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, Ostrow called the Ingleside Police Station. He was told the officer to whom he needed to speak would not be available to take a statement until the weekend — well past when the man would be released from his “5150” psychiatric hold. After hanging up the phone, Ostrow was unsettled, so he called back. 

Another police representative answered and repeated that the couple needed to wait until the weekend to provide a statement. But the representative said something else that gave Ostrow pause: “They expressed that because it was a ‘5150,’ the DA was unlikely to pursue it whether we made a statement or not, even with the additional details.” 

“So, we can come give a statement if we want,” Ostrow said of his impression of the conversation, “but it’s not really going to make a difference, and nothing’s going to happen with it.” 

Ostrow felt the message was implicitly political — a shot at District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a progressive prosecutor facing two recall campaigns which dubiously argue that crime is on the rise in San Francisco and Boudin is responsible for it. 

The account provided by Tonguet and Ostrow comports with what the District Attorney’s office has been alleging for months: That San Francisco Police officers are declining to investigate crimes and stating it’s because the DA will not prosecute them. 

“We hear reports about this all the time,” Boudin said during a December, 2020, public Zoom conversation with Chief Bill Scott. The reports include “cases involving serious crimes like residential burglaries, where officers are unable or unwilling to collect fingerprints or video because of this false assertion.” 

In response, the chief said during the December conversation that he knew of those reports and said, “we don’t condone that.” The chief noted, however, that there is a very real “frustration” among SFPD officers who see certain suspects taken to jail and released in a repeating cycle. 

“But there is a professional and a right way to handle that,” the chief said. 

That was in December. But now, in May, Ostrow and Tonguet say they’ve experienced the issue first-hand — and the consequences are real. 

Tonguet and Ostrow got ahold of a police investigator during the weekend, but were discouraged from giving statements and told the report could not be amended, the couple said. Only when they pushed harder did another police lieutenant allow the couple to submit their accounts of the alleged crime. They received a follow-up from another investigator the following Tuesday, informing them that police are now pursuing the case.

The knife-wielding suspect, however, had been released, and police could not track him down because he had provided a fake name when he was first apprehended, Ostrow said he was told. And, when police sent an officer to retrieve video evidence of the attack, the footage had already been erased by the system, Ostrow said. Ostrow was only able to capture some of the footage with his cell phone before it was erased. 

“It’s pretty clear what we experienced is because of a lack of follow up on [the police’s] part — because of their discouragement to take our statement while they still had the suspect in custody,” Ostrow said. “He was released, we don’t know his identity, and crucial evidence is lost.” 

In an emailed statement, Officer Adam Lobsinger, a police spokesman, largely corroborated the accounts Tonguet and Ostrow gave regarding the night of the attack: that police apprehended the man on the night of May 11, held him for a psychiatric evaluation, and did not take the couple’s statements until May 16. 

He acknowledged that police records show a 911 dispatcher contacting Tonguet at around 9 p.m. on May 11, following her initial call to police. “It appears that officers did not make contact with that reporting party in the course of the incident,” Lobsinger wrote. “The commanding officer of Ingleside Station is reviewing this matter.”   

“The Department is also working with our partners at the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) in an effort to improve service to our community,” he added. 

Lobsinger also described how the man was apprehended, and why police sent him to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. At around 8:45 p.m. on May 11, police responded to reports of a man with a knife suffering from a mental health crisis. He was in the street, yelling, with a knife in his hand.

As officers tried to detain the man, he fled, throwing off all of his clothing — presumably the white robe Tonguet saw him wearing. The man stopped again and “then advanced on the officers.” Police shot him twice with a less-lethal firearm. He fell to the ground, but clung to his knife and began cutting himself. (Ostrow said police informed him that the man cut off his “finger or thumb.”) 

All told, it was a 30-minute standoff, Lobsinger said, in which police successfully used de-escalation and time-and-distance techniques to take the man into custody without badly injuring him. 

“The SFPD is committed to investigating all reported crimes and incidents,” Lobsinger said, adding: “Every case is different, and there is no prescribed timeline to conduct follow-up interviews with victims and witnesses.” 

Rachel Marshall, a DA spokeswoman, was frustrated by the situation. 

“We are deeply troubled by reports of officers falsely claiming we have a policy of not prosecuting certain kinds of cases,” she said, adding that the DA has no policy preventing the prosecution of someone held for psychiatric evaluation. 

Police frequently present the DA cases in which a suspect had been “5150ed upon arrest,” meaning arrested for a crime while also being held for psychiatric evaluation. 

Marshall made herself clear: “We cannot prosecute a case when the police fail to properly investigate it, collect evidence, and/or fail to make an arrest at all.”   

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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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38 Comments

  1. If the DA is actually prosecuting then why does he hide comprehensive data on dispositions?

    1. Willy,

      He’s not hiding anything.

      It’s the cops practicing their hate.

      Big part of the reason their Lateral Transfers are hired as Training Officers.

      They already know their bigots and racists and liars and loyal to the worst of their LE community.

      It’s a very sad situation in a very wonderful City with a big heart.

      I’d start 2 ways:

      Make Top Cop (Police Chief) an elected position.

      Michael Hennessey’s idea.

      Then, the Chief would answer to the people and not the Mayor.

      My second idea is my favorite.

      Pack the bags of about 100 SF Public Safety Community on planes and boats and wheels and send them in exchanges to foreign countries.

      First step on Internationalizing Disaster Relief on a person to person basis.

      They live in our Fire Stations 2 years like in Peace Corps and they do same here.

      Cops, Emergency personnel … whole nine yards.

      Willy, you don’t seem too happy with Chesa.

      Who would you prefer and why if you don’t mind?

      Go Giants!

      h.

      1. The Chief as an elected position ?? So the Chief won’t be held accountable by the Police Commission. Can do whatever he/she/they want and voters have to wait 4 years to remove. Yeah smart idea….

        Send the cops overseas ? Why so they can lean how to fight a war ? give tickets to insurgents who litter the streets with IEDs??

        You post tons of stuff that I guess the moderators at Mission Local either find interesting or are so out of the way that the comedic aspect is too much not to pass on…. Im for the latter…

        1. The ‘Peace Corps’ worked out well.

          I got couple of great Shona grandkids thataway.

          The core idea of this ‘Disaster Exchange Corps’ is that as decades pass, thousands of firefighters around the world will know how our very unique fire protection system works.

          Trust me, I’ve been on big long aerial trucks and driven 25 miles to fight the biggest structural fire in US history at the Military Records Center in Overland Park, Mo..

          The Police Commission?

          They were all appointed by Willie Brown until Matt Gonzalez and Aaron Peskin and the Class of 2000 came to office.

          Suddenly the BOS got to share appointments to the Elections Commission.

          And, the Planning Commission.

          And, the Board of Appeals.

          And, the Ethics Commission.

          Take the case of the Office of Police Chief of the City and County of San Francisco.

          Whole force turned rotten.

          Lincoln Steffens implored Teddy Roosevelt who sent in marshals and judges and tossed the BOS and Mayor into jail.

          A few years later, the ‘Progressives’ who took power were themselves corrupted.

          Lincoln Steffens came to the conclusion that the system was natural and that permanent reform was not possible.

          His father built the California Governor’s Mansion you know?

          I’m pretty much right or obviously joking on everything I say.

          Your LE PR machine avoids me like the plague cause I’m a far better Flack than they are.

          But, hey, I’m supposed to be dying here and maybe that’s why they won’t counter my defenses of Boudin or Gascon or other righteous Progs.

          I’m just tossing my all into Boudin’s defense, that’s all.

          You hang in there Dave.

          I sent my youngest grandkid a sling shot for his 13th birthday.

          Go Giants!

          h.

  2. The suspect has to transfer to County Jail, even if suspect is holding at Psychiatric Emergency Service / Forensic psychiatric unit, sheriffs department will send staff to fingerprint the suspect. Definitely, there is a record, whether they want to use it or release it is up to them.

  3. It is completely unacceptable that police officers are behaving like doctors and making a decision on who has psychiatric problems. Because sometimes it seems that it depends on your color or behavior (acting up crazy) you will not be sent to a jail but instead a mental hospital. A crime was committed and he got away. This is not only the police dept fault, but Chesa Boudin’s DA dept too as a whole.

    1. He cut his finger off. He’s obviously going through some mental health stuff. I think it’s okay for the cops to make the call on this one.

      There’s a big windmill in golden gate park if you wanna go tilting…

    2. It doesn’t seem that the cops are acting like doctors. But given that we as a community want them to have this extra training, so they stop shooting minorities, I would like to believe that they are using this training to help this individual.

      In any case, just from reading this article, any non-doctor/cop/medic can see that this guy needed help. I’ll say that this guy needed help- and I’m not a doctor.

  4. This is true. That the police don’t want to investigate or do anything to arrest the criminals in the city for breaking the law. You can just look at 7th market where they are selling and using drugs which cause the public to have to walk in the streets, another example is 8th market Bart station entrance. I asked an officer about it and his response was the DA don’t want them to do anything.

    1. Aubrey,

      Clearly the cop was lying to you.

      It is they who do not want any reform in the system and are sabotaging Chesa at every opportunity.

      Now, get me straight, it’s NOT all of them by any means.

      The end product here is a safer and more sane society and that’s the Boudin goal.

      As I read it.

      Hell, maybe he’s got a picture of Hitler hanging in his bathroom.

      Don’t know.

      Never been there.

      Just keep being yourself, Chesa.

      Go Giants!

      h.

  5. In the 90’s, you could be felon in possession of a firearm in SF and the DA would not prosecute you. Violation of parole/probation was good enough for Hallinan, et. al. Thankfully, ATF and the US Attorney’s Office picked up the slack by prosecuting these felons under federal law.

  6. There is plenty of blame to go around, but the police can’t simply say they won’t bother because of what happens upstream. Are we paying them to hang up the phone on victims? Boudin deserves all the scrutiny he is getting, but that is no excuse not to do your job.

    1. Billiam,

      No, this is a planned campaign sponsored by the SFPOA.

      The horror of it is that the word get’s around that for whatever reason, the cops have stopped arresting people, you know what?

      People will stop calling the cops and most pretty much have in the TL.

      I had a civilian tell me the other day at a demonstration that a cop told them …

      One story the POA is spreading is that it is the San Francisco Special Patrol Force of 17 that is the cause of all the troubles.

      Yeah, SFPD has been at war with Patrol Specials for over 100 years when they were brought in to replace the corrupt (at that time) SFPD.

      Boudin is as good as anyone’s gonna get for this job, Aubrey.

      Trained for it his entire life.

      Go Giants!

      h.

  7. Wow you woke people really are criminalizing mentally ill people! He was placed on a hold, you mean that doesn’t solve his mental illness? The DA will definitely not prosecute this guy!

  8. Oh ye. My experience exactly after a breaking caught on video w police letting the suspects leave the building. I filed for an independent investigation and after 9 mins, just before Covid lock down i received a call fm an agitated investigator who discouraged me fm pursuing the complaint further. Appalling.

    1. EM,

      Really, it is all the SFPOA plan to get rid of Chesa Boudin and if you ask them they are not bashful.

      They’ll tell you outright that what they’re doing is more of a ‘work slowdown’ to make their point.

      I call it voter extortion and intimidation.

      If you don’t back the SFPOA candidates they won’t protect you.

      They will take full pay tho for essentially part-time work.

      I swear to God, someone should write to someone somewhere who has some influence and punish the cops who planned and are running this show.

      Go Giants!

      h.

  9. Well if that isn’t passing the ball.
    Victims then police pass to DA and DA returned to Victim and the 5150 is in the wind all with a wink and a shrug…
    And we wonder why the City is a bloody mess..

  10. I thought we wanted less people in the criminal justice system and more people getting the mental help they need??? It sounds like the SFPD did exactly what everyone’s been pushing for this last year, but still come out as being the bad guys. Seems like no one really knows what they want in this city….

    1. A 5150 hold is not getting anyone the help they need. They release them back onto the streets in a few days with nothing solved, just one more violent person let out to conduct more mayhem. Personally, I think the cops must secretly LOVE Chesa Boudin. They get to blame him for the fact that the SFPD is a lazy and corrupt organization and has been for decades. This case is a prime example. It is the cops’ job to take reports. Whether or not, the crime is ultimately prosecuted is not the immediate concern. Collecting statements and evidence while it is still fresh is. But these clowns can’t even be bothered to do a basic function of their jobs. The police are so great at demanding respect while giving absolutely none to the public they are supposed to serve.

    2. John,

      You know better than that.

      What the cops were doing in this instance is setting the stage for murder and they absolutely not only know that but some of them are hoping it happens.

      A big part (some say biggest) part of the Criminal Justice System is Rehabilitation.

      Take that from an old Special Education teacher with a Masters in changing the behavior of, ‘Severely Emotionally Disturbed’ students.

      I loved my kids but their environment was a petri dish for crime.

      And on and on.

      Boudin is a master surrounded in the background by wise old farts like me and that’s gotta help him.

      Go Giants!

      h.

  11. This was true long before Chesa Boudin. Many DAs before him would drop charges if the person was deemed to be mentally ill.

  12. Thanks for reporting on this, it’s condemnable behavior by the cops if true.

    But what are the actual stats on 5150s given to the DA? How many were presented, how many were tried, how many convicted, how many had the charges dropped and how does that compare with similar cities?

    1. This is the correct question to ask Mission Local to investigate. Otherwise it’s all conjecture. Boudin promised us he would not prosecute certain crimes and that is what we’re getting. I suspect the police are simply recognizing this and letting us know before we spend hours of frustration just to watch our cases get dropped by the DA. A very familiar refrain we read coming out of the progressive DAs’ office is “declined to prosecute” so it’s no wonder the police get tired of the futility of putting in the work.

    2. Jerry,

      The cops’ answer effectively is:

      “We control the files and they say what we want them to say.”

      Great line from, ‘Beau of the Fifth Column’:

      “Before you go into the woods or on any mission, study hard on the terrain and tools and local population and wildlife because knowledge doesn’t weigh anything and it can save your taking a bunch of things you’ll never use.”

      As always, Shut-Down Flacker for Free for people and issues I support.

      Hell, that should be my Mission Statement?

      Go Giants!

      h.

  13. Another crazy homeless man 5051 that’s gets off cause sanfrancisco police use the street people and 5051 to committ crimes for sanfrancisco police department and the evil cult ran by the white devil evil police of sanfrancisco the loop holes saying there 5150 let’s them get out with crimes of violence wow

  14. Convicting a 51/50 hold of a crime in San Francisco is simply not gonna happen ninety nine percent of the time. He is brought to the psych unit , not the jail. The “ balancing act “ between the Penal code and the Welfare and Institution code is all there. Gotta read the 51/50 W&I code to understand the reality of it all. Nothin new here.

    1. This sounds fishy.
      If he truly cut off his finger, he would have been taken to the ER and not psyche unit.

    2. Danny,

      I used to work at a place in the redwoods up by Guerniville (all spellings are approximate) … Rehabilitating was my part of the mission cause I was the teacher.

      Keep in mind your primary job classification.

      Most cops are on the job for far different reasons than a teacher.

      They’re good at apprehending and many are (I don’t know how to italicize) …

      We need more of those rare cops who are teachers and love to share and encourage.

      2,300 cops.

      We can do this.

      Go Giants!

      h.

  15. Seems like holding mentally ill people for more than 72 hours would be a step in the right direction. that’s barely enough time to even get someone back on their meds, let alone stabilize enough to be back out on the streets. For dangerously mentally ill, like the guy who stabbed two women on Market St – shouldn’t be released period. Why do we wait until they kill someone? Also, SFPD not wanting to file paperwork is nothing new. over the years, way before Boudin, I’ve never been able to get them to help me when i was a victim of crime.

  16. Excellent article, thanks, and sad about the near-tragic incident.

    As an attorney, I prosecuted criminal cases in the SFDA office years ago and then entered private practice and am now retired. The article describes the bureaucratic game beautifully, highlighting, in the current situation, SFPD politics.

    Boudin was elected and he’s the DA; not all cops like this. It’s very easy for anyone in government to tell you “Forgeddaboutit” when they don’t want to do their job and spend time and manpower investigating, i.e. speaking to people, writing the report, interacting with victims, the DAs office, superiors, etc. Especially where, as here, the victim escaped with her life, although she was frightened terribly and injured when she fell escaping.

    There’s nobody the police care to disparage more than the DA, as here. We’ve been known to do something similar. A walk-in comes the Complaint Desk where we met with the public and we’d tell them they’re in the wrong place, correctly. They needed first to make a police report with the SFPD uniformed division and then proceed to the proper investigative detail such as Fraud, say, for bad checks, or General Works, for assaults. Robbery, Homicide, Sex, Burglary, Juvenile, are a few of the others.

    Prop. 67 really upset police, especially since the measure, downgrading the seriousness of some crimes for legal purposes where the added punishment wasn’t needed, spearheaded successfully by our former DA, Garcia, I believe.

    When your car was broken into and the contents stolen by teams of thieves, which SFPD is unable to stop, the police look helpless, and thus bad, since they cannot catch the culprits, so they need to shift the blame elsewhere to the DA, the courts, judges, defense attorneys, etc. Anyplace but the police.

    Police don’t have time to respond when they know there’s nothing they can do, so unless you saw and can i.d. the perpetrator, there’s no sense them wasting time talking to you as they truly do have so many other calls on issues where they may be able to do something useful.

    So they tell you to call the City at 311 and submit your report online. It helps you to document your insurance claim, if you have insurance and want to risk your rates rising.

    The attack by the mental patient in the article is truly alarming, however, and SFPD needed to be called on it, imo.

    One thing to try when being ignored: Ask to speak to someone higher up, from the sergeant to the watch commander to the station captain.

    And that failing, to the media.

    If you think SFPD is problematic, try asking SFRPD to remove accumulated trash from the park you visit. They make SFPD look like amateurs when it comes to bureaucratic blame and responsibility shifting.

    So we remove it ourselves because We Care, another long story.

    Be careful and keep a sharp eye peeled at all times, is all I can say.

    1. Brother Sheridan,

      I believe the DA who worked their office side in promotion of cutting back sentence enhancements was Gascon, not ‘Garcia’.

      Ms. Garcia was the ADA who prosecuted the Zarate Pier 14 shooting case.

      She’s a good lawyer and Gonzo told me that before during and after the trial.

      She just faced the best Public Defender Defense team in America built by Jeff Adachi and featuring Matt Gonzalez as the Poor Man Of Color’s Sir Lancelot.

      What I really want to see is Chesa prosecute a case.

      I asked him to do this and asked Gonzo to do the other side in one of these ‘Asian Hate’ cases.

      Boudin says he’ll try cases down the line but not yet.

      Gonzo is always ready to rock.

      Go Giants!

      h.

  17. SFPD discouraging ppl from filing reports of crime has been going on for many years. Officers say the same B.S. “it won’t get investigated….oh, the DA won’t push charges”. I’m sure they turn away many victims.

    *** Police do this for one reason: Because They know they can.
    By us not filing a complaint, they have less work to do. And their Police Union will protect them.
    This system really sucks.

  18. SFPD never took seriously the threats from the alcoholic and abusive ex even when I had recordings (with a legal RO). Video of an attack in a hotel lobby witnessed by our child was mysteriously destroyed. Attempted break-in while away for a holiday didn’t even warrant a contact. My neighbor (who called 911) told me otherwise I would never have know why the front door was damaged. The ex was gleeful at getting away with it. No point in following up at Ingleside

  19. Chiming in here that SF cops not wanting to pursue cases is not new, from personal experience… I was even interviewed upon filing a report for something, but then later told by phone that my case was not a priority (summer 2001)… any way you slice it though, it sucks that people aren’t getting the help they need.

  20. Great cops?

    Yeah, I been looking at them and there are and have been some great ones like Joe Garrity and … and, Joe Garrity …

    That’s the problem, the good ones are overshadowed by the likes of Gary Delugnuts.

    The SF Police Force is not just incompetent.

    They don’t care for the citizenry or peace.

    Go Giants!

    h.

  21. It’s not exactly on point (ie, ignoring violent attacks), but since everyone’s dissing SFPD, just for balance here are 2 stories: my next-door neighbor has mental problems. She gets hysterical, threatens to jump off the balcony, etc. SFPD has come repeatedly, calming her gently and getting her to General where she’s spent a lot of time, coming back calm and happy.
    My motorbike and Honda Civic have each been stolen 3 times. SFPD found them each time, even after someone had repainted the scooter and installed their own ignition (since they didn’t have the key). Hard to hide, license plates, that’s what helped them find the vehicles.

    1. Davingie,

      Appreciate the correction.

      I’ve literally known thousands of great cops over my 77 years.

      SFPD had a program called, ‘Wilderness Program’ under, I believe, ‘Urban Pioneers’ home-ported at MacAteer and they molded thousands of troubled students in hiking and camping field trips deep into the hills.

      It was fabulous and Walt Scott ran it and SFUSD destroyed it just as they’ve nearly destroyed the Patrol Specials as time has passed.

      Cops care and sacrifice and give and mentor every day and I know this.

      It is only cliques like the SFPOA who make the whole team look bad.

      As long as God is unable to eradicate crime and sin and the Dodgers there will be a need for cops.

      If for nothing else, just to keep score of the body count.

      They even fudge on that.

      I keep wondering why I’m so cheerful most of the time.

      Am I nuts?

      Naw, mom was cheerful all the time too.

      Maybe she was nuts too.

      Well, she wouldn’t hurt anyone although she did raise a ruckus with Eleanor Roosevelt from behind her job making 50 caliber machine gun bullets at Small Arms in St. Louis.

      Mom felt women weren’t treated equally and my sis sent me letters from the the Commission on the Status of Women in 1962.

      Hell, my dad organized for Hoffa and the Teamsters in the ’52 Adlai Stevenson campaign.

      Anyway, I’ve been watching bad people go after good people for a long time and I rejoice to see a rare growing legal giants like the Aliotos and Hallinans and Melvin Belli and now in today’s era we have Michael Hennessey and Jeff Adachi and Matt Gonzalez and George Gascon.

      8 more pounds to reach Bucket List goal of Boot Camp weight of 140.

      As they say in Hollywood:

      “I may be dying but I’m looking great doing it.”

      lol (while you can)
      .
      h

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