SAN FRANCISCO - Video taken two years ago shows San Francisco Police Sergeant Davin Cole speaking sympathetically to a homeless woman battling addiction.
"But aren't you just occupying the bad times with a false sense of feeling good?" Cole can be heard asking on the video.
"Pretty much," a woman responds.
Cole is under criminal investigation and on unpaid leave after he was arrested for allegedly robbing a Rite Aid in San Mateo while off-duty. Sources told KTVU that handed an employee a note that said he had a gun and demanded powerful "Norco" pain pills.
Cole's attorney, Tony Brass said, "Such a sad story, all around."
Authorities said the incident unfolded at around 6 p.m. Wednesday at a Rite Aid store on Concar Drive.
"The San Mateo Police Department dispatch received a call for service alerting them of an in-progress robbery," said Officer Alison Gilmore, a department spokeswoman.
Officers arrived and found Cole still at the scene.
"He did attempt to flee on foot," Gilmore said.
But officers caught up to him and found an off-duty revolver still in a holster, a source said. Cole also reportedly told officers, "I'm f — .My life is over."
Cole was booked at San Mateo County Jail on suspicion of second-degree robbery and resisting arrest. He has since made bail. Prosecutors will review the case before determining whether to formally charge him.
"Certainly there's reason for compassion, but I don't want to pretend that the behavior isn't serious," Brass said.
The defense attorney said his client's been battling an addiction to painkillers after he was bit in the leg by a police dog while serving as a K9 officer in 2010.
"He had a secret addiction since that time. And he managed to be a high-functioning addict," Brass said.
Cole has spent 27 years with the SFPD, at one point serving as an acting lieutenant. He graduated from a supervisory leadership program in 2019.
"Sometimes with police officers who commit crimes, there's a sense of such hypocrisy, but at least here we have a man who really devoted himself to helping people who were struggling with addiction in a compassionate way," Brass said.
Joey DelliGatti has been friends with the sergeant since they were kids. He told KTVU, "It's obvious he needs help for his dependency, and can only hope he receives it."
Cole could potentially take his own advice.
"I feel like when you do get healthy it's going to be tougher," Cole told the homeless woman a couple years ago. "Now you're going to have to struggle with getting clean."