I wrote several weeks ago about drug busts in the South of Market area of San Francisco, in which criminal cases were dismissed after video evidence inconsistent with the officers’ accounts of the drug raids were discovered. This time around it’s the Richmond District. On Wednesday San Francisco Superior Court Judge Sandoval dismissed a marijuana trafficking case because the sworn testimony of police officers that the defendant consented to a search of his apartment was contradicted by the video tape evidence. The defendant had claimed that he did not give the officers permission to search his apartment.
Unfortunately some police officers falsify police reports and lie under oath.
Defense lawyers know it. Our clients surely know it. Judges, however, often refuse to see through the bad police officers’ transparent lies. That’s why it’s amazing that the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office uncovered video evidence of police misconduct. Of course, not every illegal search will be caught on video tape – far from it. But exposing those that are educates judges. It means that maybe they will be inclined to view the testimony of police officers in a more skeptical light in the future.