SF DA Chesa Boudin says chief, police union 'politicizing' investigations into cops

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin pushed back Thursday on the accusation that his office committed misconduct in a police abuse investigation, and instead described the ordeal as a complex power play by his political enemies like the city’s police union.

Boudin also slammed Police Chief Bill Scott, who one day earlier announced he was ending the department’s memorandum of understanding with Boudin, which gave authority to the district attorney’s office as the lead agency in investigating police use-of-force cases.

"Violation of MOU’s happen all the time," Boudin said. "What doesn’t happen is politicizing those violations or allowing the police union to dictate who investigates officers accused of excessive force."

The chief on Wednesday pulled the plug on the deal, saying Boudin’s office had violated the agreement by not providing evidence to police investigators in a case involving Officer Terrance Stangel and Dacari Spiers.

"Ultimately what this is about – and I welcome discussion on this – is fairness to the officers to do their jobs effectively," the chief told the Police Commission on Wednesday.

Boudin charged Stangel with numerous crimes, including assault for beating Spiers on Fisherman’s Wharf in October 2019, which left Spiers hospitalized with broken bones. 

Stangel was responding to a domestic violence call before the encounter with Spiers, but Stangel’s attorneys allege that Boudin’s office downplayed Spiers’ conduct in order to bolster their case against the officer.

In fact, during a pre-trial hearing one week ago, district attorney investigator Magen Hayashi said she was told by the prosecutor in the case to remove some of the domestic violence details in the arrest warrant for Stangel.

Hayashi was asked: "Were you instructed to remove exculpatory information from the warrant?"

She replied, "Yes" and continued, "It was a general understanding and my experience in this office if you don't sign these things, you'll be fired."

Boudin on Thursday insisted that nothing improper happening in the investigation and said the judge appeared to agree when she cleared the way for opening statements, which begin on Monday.

"I can assure you that when my office – my team – makes mistakes that we own them," Boudin said. "And I can tell you that we did not make mistakes under my leadership in this case."

Before being sworn in two years ago, after Hayashi already began her investigation, Boudin campaigned on being tougher on police and has charged four officers – including Stangle – in on-duty use-of-force cases. 

Stangel’s case is the first to go to trial – prompting accusations from Boudin’s supporters that the chief and others are trying to meddle with the outcome.

At Wednesday’s police commission meeting, Commissioner John Hamasaki attacked the chief, accusing him of trying to tamper with the jury by publicly ending the agreement with the district attorney’s office. 

"You want to put out propaganda -- press releases -- trying to muddy the water," Hamasaki said, leading to a verbal altercation with the chief during the teleconferenced hearing. 

SFPD officials said they’re re-opening their domestic violence investigation into Spiers given Hayashi’s accusation.

Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at evan.sernoffsky@foxtv.com and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky.