Chesa Boudin charged Terrance Stangel in beating
District Attorney Chesa Boudin talks to supporters after his January 2020 inauguration. Photo by Julian Mark

Two former Alameda County sheriff’s deputies who were caught on camera in 2015 beating an unarmed man in a Mission District alley waived their right to a preliminary hearing in the California Superior Court Friday, and are now scheduled for arraignment June 18. 

The waiver followed a decision last week in which District Attorney Chesa Boudin re-filed charges against Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber for unlawful beating or assault by a public officer, assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated battery causing serious injury. 

The two ex-deputies were originally charged in 2016 by District Attorney George Gascon, and despite the national outcry and existence of video evidence in the case, five years later it remains unresolved. 

While it’s unclear what caused the delay of more than three years while DA Gascon was in office, the case was set to proceed early in 2020, just after Boudin was sworn in as DA. 

Shortly before the trial, however, a key expert witness had to go into surgery. The DA requested a continuance, but it was denied, forcing the prosecutors to file for a first dismissal rather than risk losing the case, according to Rachel Marshall of the DA’s office. At the time, both Boudin and Marshall emphasized the DA’s intention to refile the case, though Marshall said the coronavirus pandemic caused further delays. 

“We had to make sure that we had all of our ducks in a row,” Marshall said, reiterating the DA’s “commitment to holding the police accountable” in a case of “really horrific police misconduct and obvious excessive use of force.” 

After a high-speed car chase across the Bay Bridge, surveillance footage revealed the two ex-deputies, Santamaria and Wieber, chased 29-year-old Stanislav Petrov into an alley in the Mission and tackled him to the ground, then beat him repeatedly with batons. The officers’ body cams were turned off, but a nearby surveillance camera was not: It recorded everything, including when Petrov raised his hands in what appeared to be surrender. 

This case marks the fourth instance in which Boudin has filed criminal charges against police officers since he took office in January, 2020, a move unheard of in San Francisco before last year. The cases are outlined below: 

  • November, 2020: SFPD Officer Christopher Samayoa was charged with homicide for the 2017 shooting of unarmed 42-year-old Keita O’Neil in the Bayview, who was suspected in a carjacking. 
  • December, 2020: SFPD Officer Christopher Flores was charged in the 2019 shooting of 25-year-old burglary suspect Jamaica Hampton at Mission and 23rd streets. Hampton was also charged. 
  • December, 2020: SFPD Officer Terrance Stangel was charged with beating 32-year-old Dacari Spiers with a baton in October, 2019, near Fisherman’s Wharf. 
  • May, 2021: former Alameda County deputies Santamaria and Wieber were charged in the 2015 beating of Petrov in the Mission District. 

These charges have been welcomed by many in the community pushing for change in police accountability. Meanwhile, Police Chief Bill Scott has issued statements of support to SFPD officers in response to the charges, claiming an “absence of balance.” 

There have also been cases where the DA has declined to pursue charges against police officers, or has made an announcement that he is unable to do so. Some of those cases involving death or severe injury are outlined below: 

  • In February, 2015, SFPD officers shot and killed Amilcar Perez-Lopez in the Mission District. This case was dropped by former DA Gascon and re-examined by DA Boudin. 
  • In March, 2018, 10 SFPD officers shot and killed Jesus Delgado-Duarte near Capp and 21st streets after he was allegedly involved in an armed burglary; Delgado-Duarte fired once at the officers before dying in a fusillade of gunfire. 
  • Christopher Kliment died in police custody in January, 2019, after being discharged from the California Pacific Medical Center’s Mission Bernal emergency department and refusing to leave. Officers restrained and handcuffed him on the ground, where he “continued to struggle and bang his head against the floor and the side of a table.” 
  • In October, 2020, Cesar Vargas was shot and killed after he charged at SFPD officers with a knife near Valencia and Market streets. He was suspected of carjacking with a knife. 
  • SFPD officers fired less-lethal projectiles and shot arson suspect Antonio Estrada in November, 2020, because he refused to drop the knife he was carrying on Market Street. 

In some of the above cases, Boudin said the department declined to file charges because the officers’ actions qualified as self-defense, while Kliment’s death was found to be accidental. 

In the case of Perez-Lopez, Boudin’s May 27 press release stated, “The only possible charge that has not expired due to the statute of limitations is murder. The evidence did not support a murder charge.” 

“This conclusion does not in any way suggest that this incident was handled appropriately by officers at the time, nor does it sanction the officer’s conduct … Because of the limits on recreating evidence years later, and the lack of the rigorous investigation needed at the time, the District Attorney’s Office remains unable to prosecute this case today.”

While there is a movement to recall the District Attorney, retired ACLU attorney and police reform advocate John Crew said that, from his perspective, Boudin is doing exactly what he said he would in his campaign: “To take a fair look at these cases, look at the facts see if prosecution is necessary, justified, warranted by the facts of the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and if so, file charges.” 

For those concerned that Boudin isn’t doing enough to go after violence in the police department, Crew stressed that the DA has a specific role that many don’t always realize. 

District Attorneys are “only there to provide accountability on the criminal side, which is a particularly high standard that you have to prove — well, it’s a crime, not that they violated policy,” Crew said. “And you have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

Eleni Balakrishnan

Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim over eight years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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12 Comments

  1. Boudin’s prosecution of police officers for excessive force is NOT “unheard of in San Francisco before last year.” I don’t want to take anything away from Boudin, but back in 1968 police officer Michael R. O’Brien was charged and tried for shooting dead a Black truck driver named George Baskett in 1968. I know about this case because my Aunt was on the jury. She was the last holdout or conviction, before O’Brien was found innocent. I wrote about this story for 48 Hills:
    https://48hills.org/2020/12/the-last-time-an-sf-cop-was-charged-with-killing-a-black-man

  2. The “recall campaign” appears to be driven by the SFPOA and is fuel by grade school level taunts, and absurd claims. The most absurd is that Boudin doesn’t prosecute cases. Simple reason shows that is a lie. If it were true, it would have been front page, banner headline news, and the lead story on local radio and television news, and yet this claim is regularly repeated as fact.

    1. Boudin’s campaign promise was literally to not prosecute cases. That’s why thousands of citizens have signed petitions to recall him… not as this article implies, because he’s not doing enough to prosecute police.

      1. Pat,

        Nice to meet you.

        You’re all wrong and causing damage.

        The idea that Boudin is not prosecuting some crimes just because he wants to get the prison population down is incorrect.

        He wants to get the prison population down because the lives and millions and billions in cash for not needed thousands of extra years in prison …

        This is not ‘radical’ and you are supporting LE when you accept their definition.

        Which is the same as conceding the contest.

        Hmmmm, my laundry’s almost done.

        Lemme re-read both Pat’s comment and my reply.

        Wait here, I’ll be right back …

        tick, tick, tick

        OK, I was wrong in my severity.

        I jumped on one word (radical) and assigned them to a category wrongly.

        Still, take this as an example for discussion.

        As a country and California in particular as a state of California is changing for the better I think.

        Why?

        Cause we never had this discussion before.

        Go Giants!

        h,

    2. To quote from SFIST (and reiterated in many other publications) at the time – “Boudin rode his (welcomingly) progressive platform all the way to the finish line, winning SF’s knife-sharp DA race by just a few thousand votes last weekend. And as SF’s newest DA, he hopes to help the city’s more disenfranchised populations by not pursuing the prosecution of “quality-of-life crimes.”

      This is not a secret. “Progressive” San Francisco voted for a radical DA, and the negative results have come to be, with yet another set of unintended, yet entirely predictable consequences.

      1. ‘Joe’,

        To paraphrase a Texas politician …

        “I know Joe Eskenazi and you, sir, are no Joe Eskenazi.”

        Please, I know you weren’t trying to pretend to be Joe cause anyone who reads your statement realizes you are LE community.

        Your comments are pure Trumpian style lies:

        DA ‘ONLY’ prosecutes cops?

        He prosecuted 23,000 people last year and less than a half dozen were cops.

        You a big ole liar, ‘Alternative’ Joe.

        Go Giants!

        h.

      2. Pat,

        The old ‘one person can mean the difference thing is about me in this case.

        I am firmly convinced that my sign carrying for over 100 days at 16th and Church Street stations, thousands of flacks and general completely unfunded project gained at least 2,300 votes which is what Chesa won by.

        I am one disabled old man (still walk 4 miles daily – why they tell me I’m gonna die soon?) …

        Sitting by under my 14th and Valencia intersection I listen to the familiar drone of the traffic.

        On my machine I follow the continuous drone of the lackies of Law Enforcement.

        My goal for the rest of this campaign is to post a reply to any negative comment made about the District Attorney and bring love to their hearts so hardened by hate.

        Other than that, I stopped buying the Chronicle.

        It’s a time sink for me except for the Sports Page and big Al Saracavic moved to the Examiner which also won’t print my comments.

        I’ve beaten the billionaires before and I’ll beat them again here.

        Y’all just watch.

        Go Giants!

        h.

    3. LOL! Boudin DOESN’T prosecute…unless it’s a police officer that’s been charged. He’s shown an abundance of concern for the well-being of suspects, and expressed little more than obligatory “lip service” for victims, their families, and the general public. Boudin must be recalled, and I believe he will be.

      1. ‘Joe’,

        To paraphrase a Texas politician …

        “I know Joe Eskenazi and you, sir, are no Joe Eskenazi.”

        Please, I know you weren’t trying to pretend to be Joe cause anyone who reads your statement realizes you are LE community.

        Your comments are pure Trumpian style lies:

        DA ‘ONLY’ prosecutes cops?

        He prosecuted 23,000 people last year and less than a half dozen were cops.

        You a big ole liar, ‘Alternative’ Joe.

        Go Giants!

        h.

      2. ‘Other’ Joe,

        I don’t know about others but it rubs me the wrong way when you use ‘Joe’ as a handle.

        It confuses things when one see’s ‘Joe’ as sender and get’s fed up some pile of Right Wing lies.

        Chesa doesn’t go after anyone but cops?

        That’s simply a lie and blatant.

        They prosecute 23,000 cases a year and you are whining and complaining about persecuted cops (maybe dozen cases even considered out of 23,000!

        I wouldn’t print your lies.

        Hey, if the internet can ban Trump’s lies, you deserve same fate.

        Opposition discussion, I’m all for it.

        A Recall campaign based solely on lies ain’t cool in this old Hippie’s book.

        Use another handle.

        To paraphrase a Texas politician …

        “I know Joe Eskenazi and you are no Joe Eskenazi.

        Go Giants!

        h.

  3. Since Boudin took office in January 2020, burglary, arson and murder have all spiked in San Francisco. He also failed to prosecute and jail a man accused of committing several burglaries and then drunkenly running over and killing two women and a man twice accused of domestic abuse and then murdered a child.

    Last week Boudin criticized the police for the surge in crime for not doing more to make more arrests, after running for District Attorney on a platform that the police are too aggressive in enforcing the law.

    Boudin is trying to gaslight voters, blaming people he never liked for his own failures. That’s why he’s being recalled.

    1. You are trying to gaslight us by pretending that the Boudin and not the pandemic was behind the massive shift in the type of crimes SF and literally every other major city is experiencing. I’d be embarrassed to be repeating the 1st sentence above.

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