San Rafael police say it was officer's idea to take homeless man to SF

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ByLiz Kreutz via KGO logo
Thursday, August 25, 2022
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A spokesperson for the San Rafael Police Department says it was the officer's idea to take a homeless man to San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A spokesperson for the San Rafael Police Department is clarifying whether a homeless man dropped in San Francisco had requested to be taken to the city.

Lt. Scott Eberle told ABC7 News that through the department's internal investigation into the incident they learned it was the San Rafael police officer's idea to take the man to San Francisco. Eberle said the man accepted the offer. A supervisor on duty gave the police officer approval to do so.

EXCLUSIVE: Video shows San Rafael officer dropping off homeless man in San Francisco

ABC7 News first broke the story on Monday of a video showing a police officer from Marin County dropping off a man appearing to be homeless and mentally ill on 14th Avenue and Lake Street in San Francisco, leaving him alone in a residential area with no resources.

Eberle had previously said he believed the homeless man had made the initial request to be taken to the city. The department later learned it was the police officer who made the request that the man accepted.

"Why the officer chose San Francisco, we don't know," Eberle said.

After the video surfaced, the San Francisco City Attorney's Office said they were investigating why San Rafael PD brought the man across county lines.

"San Francisco is not a dumping ground," San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said. "It's disturbing to think that another jurisdiction would drop someone experiencing homelessness or mental health challenges in the middle of a residential neighborhood, with no services or resources around it. It doesn't make for a good outcome."

Lt. Eberle said their officer should never have driven the man to San Francisco or any other outside county.

"We made a mistake," Eberle said. "That is what we did, we dropped this subject off in San Francisco. That did cause resources that would not have been tied up in San Francisco."

"I want to extend our apologies not only to the San Francisco community, that neighborhood, but to the first responders who had to deal with this subject," he added.

Eberle said earlier that afternoon the San Rafael police officer picked up the man at the Northgate Mall in San Rafael. The officer had been called because of reports the man was threatening a security guard at BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse. Eberle said the man was not armed and the officer did not believe the man's behavior reached the level of needing to bring him to a local hospital.

RELATED: Castro merchants threaten civil disobedience over ongoing homeless problem in SF

Neighbors who live in the area believe the police officer dropped the man in their neighborhood because it was convenient and close to the Golden Gate Bridge.

"You come off the bridge, go through the tunnel, you make a right, it's easy to drop him off," a neighbor said. "What upset me most was that a public servant from another jurisdiction would import that into our neighborhood, would bring someone into our neighborhood and drop them off."

Eberle said it is not part of San Rafael PD's policy to drive someone to another county. He said there are many avenues the officer could have taken, including trying to find him a shelter or guiding him to public transportation. He said the department is addressing the incident internally with both the officer involved and the supervisor on duty who approved it.

"I cannot comment on ongoing personnel issues, but we are looking at this investigation and taking it very seriously," he said. "And I want to reiterate that this does not reflect the usual actions of the San Rafael Police Department."

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