Fajitas fracas embroils police in San Francisco
Published: Saturday, March 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 1, 2003 at 1:08 a.m.
SAN FRANCISCO - Police Chief Earl Sanders and nine other policemen have been indicted in connection with a brawl between off-duty officers and a bartender over a bag of fajitas.
A total of 10 officers were indicted on felony charges late Thursday, including three charged with beating two men in front of a bar just after closing time.
Sanders, Assistant Chief Alex Fagan and Deputy Chief David Robinson were among the seven indicted on one count each of conspiring to obstruct justice. Fagan's son, Alex Fagan Jr., is of one of the officers charged with assault and battery.
It was not immediately clear whether Sanders and the others would turn themselves in or be arrested.
Mayor Willie Brown, who named Sanders chief in July, said the indictments were an overreaction by District Attorney Terence Hallinan, a political rival.
"I do not believe that there is any conduct that merits felonious attention," Brown told KRON-TV. "You can get anything you wish out of a grand jury, but you ought to be extraordinarily careful when you use that power, because that power can come back to bite you."
Repeated attempts to reach Hallinan for comment by phone and at his office were unsuccessful Friday.
The indictments stem from a November incident outside the Blue Light bar.
Bartender Adam Snyder has said he and a friend, Jade Santoro, were walking to their cars when they were accosted by the officers, who demanded Snyder's bag of steak fajitas. When he refused, Snyder said, he and Santoro were attacked.
Snyder's lawyer, Eric Safire, refused to comment Friday.
Bill Fazio, an attorney who represented several officers who appeared before the grand jury, said he was shocked at the indictments.
"The chief of police and entire command staff of the police department has been indicted by the most politically active district attorney who will prostitute himself to any level to get press attention," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "This is ridiculous and obscene."
Sanders, a 37-year veteran and former homicide detective, took over a department that had come under harsh criticism for failing to solve enough of the city's violent crimes.
The indictments follow months of reports in the Chronicle detailing the scuffle and subsequent investigation.
"A lot of people up to and including the mayor have expressed opinions that this is much ado about nothing," Chronicle Executive Editor Phil Bronstein said Friday. "The incident itself was what it was, but the activities afterward seem to have become a bigger story."
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