SFPD officer charged; suit asks for $1 million

April 8, 2009 5:08:11 PM PDT
A San Francisco police officer is facing criminal charges of battery. He is scheduled for a Wednesday hearing in connection with a late-night confrontation that was caught on tape.

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ABC 7's I-Team has been tracking the case since last fall.

Previously-released video eventually lead to the criminal charge against Officer Paul Morgado. The video was shot at 1:00 p.m. on a Saturday morning in March 2008, south of Market.

Officer Morgado could be seen having an exchange with a man in a crosswalk.

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."

26-year-old Charles Haynes was just leaving a job at a nightclub.

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 b****.'"

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

Morgado: "You're going to jail."

In a lawsuit filed in January, Haynes claims it was Officer Morgado who started the trouble by saying, "Get out of the (expletive) street, boy." Haynes admits answering with his own expletive and calling into question Morgado's sexual orientation.

After that point, the tape picks up. Police backup can be seen arriving at the scene. They arrest Haynes for public intoxication, but there is little evidence of that on the video in Hayne's words or actions.

The officers later let him go without charges.

"I think it's important for people to remember that cops are human beings and we make mistakes. And, we need to correct those mistakes," says Gary Delagnes with the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

The head of the police officers union believes Morgado had a lapse in judgment and lost his temper. But, he is disappointed the district attorney's office has filed a misdemeanor charge of battery against the officer, even though the judge agreed to a pre-trial diversion program that could lead to the charge being dismissed.

"As far as I'm concerned there was no serious injury here. It was a lapse in judgment, a loss of temper, and we can't have that. And, I think it can be corrected administratively through the department in this particular case," says Delanges.

"The case came to us as more of an outrage case. It's an outrage case," says John Burris, Haynes' attorney.

Burris has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Morgado, the police department and the city. He is especially concerned about the report Morgado filed which paints Haynes as the aggressor.

"This is not the worst physical case I've ever had. But, in terms of the unlawful arrest, the verbal abuse and then ultimately physically manhandling him, it's just a violation of one's constitutional rights," Burris says.

The police union says Morgado could lose his job over the incident after the case is referred to the police commission. The SFPD and the city could take another hit; the lawsuit is asking for $1 million in damages.

The police department declined to comment on the case calling it "a personnel issue." Phone calls to Officer Morgado's attorney have not been returned.

Click here to watch the entire, uncut video of the confrontation. (Warning: Clip contains profanity.)

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

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