(Wrongful) Use of Force

PNNscholar1 - Posted on 27 August 2010

POOR columnist and police brutality survivor, Marlon Crump tells about his legal battle against the SFPD.

Marlon Crump

PNN Tuesday, November 20, 2007;

"There is nothing more frightening, more scary, more terrifying than someone opening and coming through your door..........unannounced."

Last year the San Francisco Chronicle ran a month long series entitled "Use of Force" in which they chronicled past events of misconduct by the San Francisco Police Department. At the time, my case was still being investigated by the police oversight agency, the Office of Citizens Complaints (O.C.C) so nothing was written regarding my own brutal encounter with S.F.P.D members.

Just last month, the two-year anniversary of my worst police encounter occurred. On October 7th 2005 a dozen members of the S.F.P.D. stormed the AllStar Hotel, single room occupancy on 16th/Folsom Streets, where I still live. It was almost midnight. I was in my room, preparing to leave to pick up some food from the store with my food stamp card when suddenly my door lock clicked opened.

The next thing I knew, I was staring down the barrels of numerous guns carried by a squad of officers yelling obscenities at me. This is an image that will be forever seared into my memory and one that still haunts me to this day. One of the officers was a young short Filipino man, with a receding hairline named Officer Angel G. Lozano, I would later learn he had falsely prompted his assisting fellow officers and their commanding personnel of his "possible location of a black male armed robbery suspect, wearing a long black leather coat" at the AllStar.

Prior to his "capture" of me, he was with another fellow officer, a short Chinese man with a dark crew-cut named Raymond Lee.

Both officers swore to the AllStar Hotel Resident Manager, Robert Williams that I was a suspect in a robbery and that they needed a spare room key for my unit. By this time, nearly a dozen officers had arrived onto the premises. Despite the protests by Mr. Williams, he finally relented and relinquished my spare room key to the officers.

All of this was occurring as I sat inside my room preparing to go to the supermarket, unaware of the near-death experience that awaited me and forever changed my life. After a negative identification by the witnesses and victims of the armed robbery incident that took place in the area, Officer Angel Lozano was ordered on his walkie-talkie to let me go, and he gave me back my spare room key.

The very moment the police stormed my SRO, I knew that every single police procedural protocol was shattered--civil and privacy rights. Everything in my life was torn apart in that instant, just like the rip inside of my long leather black trench coat. I needed to seek retribution from a legal perspective, as I wasn't the type to always march with a picket sign, or violently fight back.

Justice doesn't ultimately mean having to resort to illegal or violent means. I would speak out against the injustices I endured by speaking truth, even if it meant a long hard struggle. After making a complaint with the Office of Citizen's Complaints, I filed a California Government Tort Claim against the City and County of San Francisco, on October 14th, 2005.

An investigator named Sandra Garcia was assigned to my claim and about two months after the initial filing and the incident, it was denied. "I spoke to a sergeant of the Mission District Station and they stated there was probable cause to detain you and no officer did any damage to your coat. He recommended that your claim be denied, Mr. Crump." I really wasn't surprised by this initial denial.

Throughout my ordeal, I've learned that just about any city government agency and police department will go through any lengths, even if it's a violation of state or even federal law to conceal any of its member's wrong doings, and ultimately, to discourage a complainant from demanding accountability.

I began attending a weekly meeting at San Francisco City Hall held every Wednesday by seven members of the Board of San Francisco Police Commissioners, which governs the SFPD and the Office of Citizen's Complaints. I also learned that unwarranted intrusions into an S.R.O tenant's room happened frequently and I decided to raise this issue to the police commissioners.

During the next two years I frequently attended, my case of unwarranted action by S.F.P.D members was sustained last year, and I pursued a civil action against San Francisco as a pro se litigant this year. I was also anticipating some sort of disciplinary action to be brought towards Lozano, Lee, and the rest of the officers of the Mission District Station that took part in that course of action.

Unfortunately, because of last year's right-wing/patriotic U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Copley Press in San Diego, a ruling that prevents a citizen from accessing a police officer's complaint history, or being present at a police review hearing during an intended disciplinary action upon an officer accused of misconduct; I may never know what discipline, if any was ever imposed upon Officer Lozano and his assisting personnel officers. This very ruling still causes a great controversy. I did, however, discover that Officer Angel G. Lozano has a past history of misconduct.

After viewing an old archive last year on S.F.GOV website, I found out that there was possibly disciplinary action against him in May and December of 2001, but of course, with Copley Press and certain provisions in State Law and the Peace Officer's Bill of Rights, I was able to access very little.

It took me nearly seven months to even obtain a police report regarding the officer's conduct upon me. I received the practiced responses over and over again. "Oh it's a slow process", or it might be "privileged information" or "your case is still being investigated". It was only after constant complaining at the police commission hearings that I finally received a copy of the original from Hall of Justice.

After examining the document, I was even more certain of Officers Lozano and Lee's lying. A huge paragraph in the "Narrative" section of the report, regarding the dialog between Lee, Lozano, and resident manager Robert Williams was blackened out. Why? Because there was something of an improper procedural protocol and of an incriminatory nature they tried to desperately conceal, and this was confirmed after I received another copy of the same police incident report before the year 2006 ended.

This particular report showed the paragraph in which the "sworn" statements by Lozano and Lee were that the suspect was wearing a brown jacket, tan pants, he stood about 5'7-5'8 tall with a baseball cap, which was completely different of my description as I stand 6'3 wore a long black leather coat, white dress shirt and black slacks.

The report also failed to mention that the key was demanded repeatedly from Mr. Robert Williams. The common denominator between myself, and this robbery suspect was only the color of our skin. Officer Angel G. Lozano apparently has a history of brutality and misconduct according to insider sources. Lozano's lack of proper procedural protocols is a potentially dangerous threat towards every citizen, but particularly for those living in an S.R.O Hotel, or in a community that is considered "poor" or of "color."

The brutality I endured at the hands of a poorly trained, highly unprofessional, and possibly violent police officer could have happened to anybody and with fatal results. That is why I continue to fight against this injustice by representing myself. I cannot risk turning over my case and my humiliation to the City, state or some unconcerned lawyer. I urge all of those who have suffered a similar fate in our criminal injustice system to speak out and fight their own battle. We cannot continue to allow our safety, humanity and well-being to be threatened at the hands of law enforcement officials.


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