Can Federal Charges Be Filed Against San Francisco Police Officers?

Federal grand juries have indicted six current and former San Francisco police officers on various charges, including civil rights conspiracy charges. All of the officers were suspended without pay and had their guns taken away. The Police Chief of the San Francisco Police Department, who has worked in the department since 1981, reported that the incident is "as serious as an issue as I can recall in my time in the department."

According to the federal indictment, the six officers can be broken down into two groups of three. The first three officers were identified as Sgt. Ian Furminger, Officer Edmond Robles, and former officer Reynaldo Vargas. The officers were charged with a large range of charges. All three face a charge for stealing money, drugs, electronics and gift cards seized during investigations. Shortly after a $500 Apple gift card had been seized in 2009, one of the officers used it to buy an iPhone and iPod Nano.

Furminger, Robles, and Vargas each face two drug-related counts. In one of the incidents, Vargas is accused of delivering the pot to two informants and asking them to sell it and split the proceeds with him, Furminger and Robles. Each officer faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

In another federal indictment, three other officers were charged with civil rights violations. It is alleged that the three individuals entered hotel rooms illegally and intimidated occupants. Although the indictment does not specifically provide additional detail about the illegal searches, a civil lawsuit has been filed by three occupants of the Hotel Henry in 2012. There is also surveillance footage from the hotel that identified the three defendants as Officer Arshad Razzak, Officer Richard Yick, and Officer Raul Eric Elias.

The details from the civil lawsuit claim that the officers got the hotel's master key and forced their way into rooms without a search warrant or the occupants' consent on two separate occasions. They allegedly searched the occupants personally, searched their rooms, and made drug arrests. Some of the officers have also been charged with falsifying police reports.

There is much greater punishment for these individuals than possible prison time. The videos from the hotel have already led to the dismissal of dozens of criminal cases. Looking towards the future, it does not seem naive to think that more questions about past convictions involving these officers will arise.


Fox News, 6 San Francisco officers indicted by feds on charges including stealing money, drugs, 2/27/14

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