Homeless man who was beaten by deputy at SF General tells his story

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- A homeless man who was allegedly beaten up by a San Francisco Sheriff's Deputy at a hospital on Tuesday spoke with KTVU about his ordeal and the deputy's attempt to cover up the incident.

Despite what he went through, the man said that he is grateful for how he was treated by law enforcement after the incident

Each step is a struggle for 59-year-old Fernando Guanill. The San Francisco native and self-admitted felon has been homeless for three and a half years. He is awaiting knee-replacement surgery to keep him mobile.

He's also at the center of an alleged assault by a Sheriff's deputy at San Francisco General Hospital that was caught on surveillance cameras last November.

"It happened so fast and so instantly," Guanill told KTVU Tuesday in an interview at his attorney's office. "Someone was waking me up, telling me 'You gotta get out of here! You gotta go!' I looked at the uniform and it was a deputy. And he was telling me to get up, I had to walk out of there. I said, 'I can't get up and I can't walk. See? I got a cane.'"

Guanill came to the emergency room to seek pain pills ahead of knee surgery scheduled for later that day. He said he fell asleep and was awakened in the empty waiting room by Deputy Michael Lewelling, whom he said ordered him to leave and then began beating him.

"I felt some punches on my head, face, somewhere. And I was being choked because I couldn't breathe," said Guanill. "I didn't expect anything like that from anyone, especially at General Hospital."

Prosecutors say hospital surveillance video shows the assault. Lewelling was arrested and faces four felony charges, including perjury and filing a false police report.

"We had a Sheriff's Deputy wait until [Guanill] was alone and isolated and then attempt to instigate a fight," said Guanill's attorney Curtis Briggs. "When he couldn't instigate a fight, then he just beat Fernando."

Guanill himself was initially booked on assaulting a police officer and taken to jail. He said deputies there treated him with dignity.

"The jail, the treatment there was completely wonderful in comparison to General Hospital," said Guanill.

Guanill and his legal team on Tuesday announced they're filing a $25,000 claim against the city. They've are also calling for the deputies who assisted Lewelling to be investigated or prosecuted as well.

The San Francisco District Attorney's office said its investigation is still ongoing. Lewelling is on administrative leave without pay and is due in court March 23rd.