SFPD detective Tasered in her home

November 10, 2008 8:35:27 PM PST
The city of Antioch and its police department have been slapped with a federal lawsuit by a San Francisco police detective who got Tasered in her home.

One of the officers who raided the San Francisco Police detective's home was wearing a microphone, so it was all recorded.

It's about two o'clock on a Thursday morning.

Antioch police officers: "Antioch Police Department, we want to see some hands now."

Antioch police break down the door and fire a Taser at a San Francisco police detective in her own home.

Antioch officer: "Go, now!"

SFPD detective: "Augh!"

I-Team's Dan Noyes: "What does it feel like to be Tased?"

SFPD detective Lynn Richardson: "Your body jerks like a chicken, involuntarily. It almost feels like being shot where you lose control of all your bodily functions."

Lynn Richardson is a 14-year veteran of the SFPD -- her last assignment was inspector in the fraud unit.

She says her problems began when she tried to evict a tenant from the house they shared in Antioch.

"Her children lived with me and she was behind in her rent and I legally served her a 30-day notice to vacate," said Richardson.

On June 7th, 2007, the tenant argued with some of Richardson's friends who were spending the night -- adults and children.

911 Dispatch: "Who's at your house?"

Daughter: "It's me, my mother and some other people we do not know."

The tenant had her 14-year-old daughter call the Antioch police.

Daughter: "We live with this other lady. She has two kids threatening us."

911 Dispatch: "What are they saying?"

Daughter: "They're saying they're going to get us out of the house, they're going to kill us."

The police arrive and Richardson's friends let them into the house. She wakes up and confronts the officers.

"And I kept telling the officers it's a tenant landlord dispute. She's making these allegations because she's getting evicted. I'm doing everything by the book," said Richardson.

Richardson then tells the officers to leave her house -- to bring a supervisor and search warrant if they return, and to "stop acting like security guards."

That doesn't sit well with Officer Santiago Martinez, as recorded on the police dispatch tapes.

Officer Santiago Martinez on police radio: "If we come back out here, we're going to need a supervisor for this so-called SFPD lady, she's the main one causing the problems."

Martinez and his partner don't leave the scene. They call for reinforcements, and question the tenant and her daughter further.

Officer Martinez: "So, are you guys scared of them or what?"

Daughter: "No, we're not scared of them."

Officer Martinez: "Oh."

Tenant: "But, we can't --"

Daughter: "We don't know what they're liable to do because we're going to sleep and they can come in our room."

Other people who were inside the house that night told the I-Team there were no serious death threats.

"Nobody really threatened nobody, they just told her to just, you know, you got to get out and move your stuff," said witness Nolan Satterfield.

Satterfield says the police overreacted by breaking down the door, frightening the children inside the home.

Nolan Stterfield: "They like, 'Freeze, freeze!' I'm like, 'Freeze what? I'm in the house.' They like, 'Get on the ground.' I'm like, 'Alright.' They got all their stun guns."

I-Team's Dan Noyes: "You got all the kids there and the kids are seeing the guns?"

Nolan Stterfield: "Kids seeing the guns."

On his microphone, you can hear Officer Martinez trying to calm the children.

Officer Martinez: "Go outside, it's not a real gun, it's plastic."

The police clear the house and approach the master bedroom. Richardson opens the door in her pajamas, sees two Antioch police officers with guns drawn and Officer Martinez with a taser.

She calls to her partner, still in bed.

Richardson: "Samona, wake up."

Sergeant: "Where the dogs at?"

Richardson: "Out in the back, what's going on?"

Sergeant: "Go, now!"

Richardson: "Augh! Ah, you did that on purpose, dude."

Officer Martinez: "Turn around, turn around, turn around."

Sergeant: "Get on your stomach."

Richardson: "How did you justify that? How'd you justify that?"

Sergeant: "Show us your hands, that's all you got to do."

Richardson: "I did, you know I'm not armed."

Police arrested Richardson for obstructing justice and two of her friends for threatening the tenant. But a judge tossed out the case, ruling that the Antioch Police unlawfully entered the house.

Matt Fregi was Richardson's defense attorney.

"Both of the alleged victims were in the front yard essentially in protective police custody at that point and so there was no reason absent a warrant to kick down that front door," said Fregi.

Antioch Police Chief Jim Hyde refuses to talk to the I-Team. We wanted to ask if he's disciplined the officers involved in the illegal entry and if he supports them Tasing the SFPD detective.

Lynn Richardson has filed a federal lawsuit, accusing the Antioch police of violating her civil rights -- of assault, battery, false arrest and of discrimination.

The complaint says the Antioch police and Chief Hyde "Are involved in a conspiracy to force or pressure African-Americans, to move out of certain neighborhoods and/or the city of Antioch."

Lawyers at an outside firm hired to defend the city against the lawsuit also declined to be interviewed, and their written statement did not address the unlawful entry.

It did defend the use of the Taser that night: "Acting in accordance with the department's policies, an officer used an electronic control device to overcome (Lynn Richardson's) resistance."

"I'm very depressed, sad that this occurred," said Richardson.

It also doesn't help that just hours after she got Tased, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong placed Richardson on "unpaid administrative leave" because of the arrest -- no pay check for the last 17 months.

Chief Fong also declined our requests for an interview, so we caught up to her at a seminar last week.

I-Team's Dan Noyes: "She's been cleared of all charges, why doesn't she have her job back?"

Chief Fong: "That is a personnel issue and it would not be appropriate for me to speak about that."

Richardson accuses Fong of siding with the Antioch police.

In a letter, the chief called Richardson's conduct (that night): "A threat to the public."

I-Team's Dan Noyes: "What about her conduct was a threat to the public?"

Chief Fong: "That is a personnel issue and although she is giving you permission to address it, I am not able to address her situation. It is a personnel matter."

But, Fong has had no problem talking about personnel issues in the past.

She held a news conference to announce two dozen officers were being suspended, before they even knew, for participating in an off-color comedy video. That was three years ago, and several of those officers are still off the street while their disciplinary cases drag on.

That's Detective Richardson's life now.

"It's a nightmare, I mean, words can't explain what I've been through -- it feels like I'm living in a nightmare. I'm fighting for justice. I'm defending my character as a police officer, my ethics, everything's being questioned,' said Richardson.

The I-Team tried to reach the tenant whose daughter called the Antioch police that night. We tried her phone numbers and checked several of her addresses, but were not able to track her down.

Read more about the police report and the audio tapes on the I-Team Blog.


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