Public defender Jeff Adachi says security video shows a third drug bust in which some of the same officers raided another residential hotel room. He says the officers failed to properly identify themselves and searched the room without the correct warrant. The district attorney has already dropped the case.
Adachi says these cases deserve an FBI investigation.
"When the federal government becomes involved, they're interested in looking at how this police department is operating, was there a practice of routinely violating people's constitutional rights," Adachi said.
The FBI initiated its probe after Adachi released security videos showing drug busts conducted by six narcotics officers at a South of Market hotel. The video shows one officer putting his hand over the camera before they rushed into the room. Arrests were made and drugs confiscated in both raids. Adachi says some officers even lied about the circumstances on police reports.
District Attorney George Gascon is investigating whether the same officers may have tainted other cases. Even though he was police chief during that time, he sees no conflict of interest in launching the probe.
"This office will conduct a thorough investigation if there were acts of misconduct on criminal misconduct that took place, they'll be prosecuted accordingly," Gascon said.
Interim Police Chief Jeff Godown announced that while the investigations continue, he is shutting down the entire plainclothes unit at Southern Station, where the six officers work.
"I'm going to look at the plainclothes operations, I'm going to look at the training, I'm going to look at everything; we're going to audit the entire plainclothes operation in this department regarding anything involving plainclothes operations," Godown said.
The six officers have been assigned to desk duty. They make up most of the plainclothes unit at Southern Station.
Godown says he will assign other plainclothes officers to work that district, which includes Sixth Street, a known hotspot for drug trafficking.