Cop investigated after name-calling incident

September 9, 2008 6:56:54 PM PDT
A San Francisco police officer has had his gun and badge taken away and is now assigned to desk duty after an incident that was caught on camera.

When they begin their shifts, police officers know their lives could be on the line -- it's a stressful job. But in this case, we have an officer who appears to have let his emotions get the best of him.

It is about one o'clock on a Saturday morning in March, south of Market. Officer Paul Morgado has an exchange with a man in the crosswalk. He does not like what he hears and comes at the man.

Officer Paul Morgado: "What the f*** did you say? Don't you f***** call me s***. Don't f***** do that s*** dude."

Charles Haynes: "I didn't touch you."

Morgado: "Turn around, turn around."

The supposed suspect is an emcee, 26-year-old Charles Haynes, just leaving a job at nightclub. He does not put up a fight.

Morgado: "Dude, put your hands behind your back."

Haynes: "All right, brah."

Morgado: "Don't do that s*** to me."

What did Haynes do wrong?

Morgado: "You called me right to my face 'a little bitch.'"

Haynes: "I didn't call you a little bitch."

Morgado: "You're going to jail."

Reinforcements arrive and help Officer Morgado detain Haynes, but then they let him go, without so much as a ticket.

Jakadi Imani, the executive director of Bay Area Police Watch, was stunned when we showed him the video.

"For this officer to come up and accost someone, that's an assault. If you shoved me that way, you could be in jail," said Imani.

No one at the Hall of Justice was available for comment Tuesday. Spokesman Neville Gittens was teaching a course on media relations at the police academy.

However, sources inside the department provided the police report Officer Morgado filed and it paints a very different picture than what is on the video. He writes that the altercation began in the middle of the crosswalk with Haynes "extremely intoxicated." "I then tried to detain Haynes for his own safety for fear he would be struck by passing vehicles."

There is no sign of that on the tape. Haynes walks straight, right by the officer -- no attempt by Morgado to detain him.

The report continues, "I told Haynes to stop several times, at which point he turned around and came towards me in an aggressive manner."

No question from the video, Officer Morgado was the aggressor.

"You cannot allow your emotions to dictate how you treat people," said former SFPD Chief Tony Ribera.

Ribera saw his share of controversies when he was San Francisco's police chief. He says the video raises a question of supervision and training -- that the officer has to know what is proper and legal, and safe.

"That violence frequently escalates and you have what is seemingly a minor event escalate into something very serious," said Ribera.

Officer Morgado is under criminal investigation for assault under the color of authority. He is on desk duty at the Hall of Justice, without his gun or badge. This comes at a very difficult time for the police department, battling a soaring homicide rate.

"They need to be having really strong relationships with the community and not antagonizing them. For this to be out there right now, the San Francisco Police Department really has a problem on their hands. They can't have officers behaving this way," said Imani.

Haynes filed a claim against the City and County of San Francisco about a week ago. He tells the I-Team all he wanted was an apology, but now, "let the chips fall where they may."

The police press office emailed the I-Team late Tuesday afternoon saying they will not have a comment because this is a personnel matter.

ABC7 Extra
We're streaming the entire video from start to finish here. Please be advised it contains a lot of profanity, mainly on the part of the officer.

Read more about this case in our I-Team blog here.


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