San Francisco Police released body-camera footage on Tuesday that showed Officer Terrance Stangel using a baton to hit a black man at least once despite being on the ground last 2019 that has received widespread criticism for racism.
The department also released audio of 911 calls that included a witness saying they saw a man beating up a girl and dragging her by the neck. The caller told dispatchers that the suspect was wearing a black and red top. The description matched Dacari Spiers that police later confronted at the scene.
Allegedly, Spiers denied allegations he did something to his girlfriend during an exchange with police officers with his girlfriend repeatedly screaming “No!”
Authorities released the footage just a day after District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed battery and assault charges against six-year veteran Stangel. The legal expert argued that the officer beat Spiers, calling his actions aggressive and unnecessary.
On Tuesday, San Francisco Police Chief, Bill Scott, said Spiers might have elevated the situation that forced officers to take a more aggressive approach.
In a statement, he said, “While I steadfastly believe that officers should be held accountable when they violate the law, I feel just as strongly that there needs to be a balance in holding individuals accountable when they assault, physically attack, or unlawfully obstruct police officers in their duty to respond to public safety emergencies.”
The incident between Stanger and Spiers occurred on October 6, 2019. The altercation happened after a different officer responded to a 911 call about domestic violence at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Prosecutors said that Stangel’s partner, Cuahtemoc Martinez, told Spiers to turn around after a bystander pointed the officers in the direction of the two. They argued that the officers tried to grab Spiers and ignored their questions about what they had done wrong.
The District Attorney’s office said that Officer Stangel hit Spiers with his baton from behind and once more after Martinez forced the black man to the ground. Prosecutors did not charge Martinez due to not striking Spiers.
Boudin’s office said that the two officers did not witness Spiers commit a crime and that he was never arrested during the altercation. After the exchange, the suspect required medical attention, including surgery on his wrist and leg. Spiers’ injuries also caused him to be in a wheelchair during his recovery.
Stangel’s attorney, Nicole Pifari, said that her client did not break any law. She added that the suspect ignored the officers’ instructions and resisted when Martinez grabbed his arm. Pifari claims that Stangel only interfered when the two started “grappling with each other,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Boudin has so far charged three San Francisco Police Department active or former officers for criminal actions. He is a former public defender that has worked to have police accountable for their actions against suspects and misuse of aggressive force.
The three cases have happened within the last month and are considered uncommon in the United States. Prosecutors rarely charged police with crimes during active duty. Many people believe the killing of George Floyd earlier this year has caused calls for police accountability to grow louder.