SF task force to investigate law enforcement misconduct allegations

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's top law enforcement official has launched an investigation into what he calls "troubling charges" of wrongdoing at the sheriff's office and police department. The latest accusations are being made against the police crime lab.

District Attorney George Gascon's investigation is not being received favorably by the agencies he's planning to investigate. Police Chief Greg Suhr says it's an election year, while Sheriff Ross Mikrarimi and Public Defender Jeff Adachi say they want an independent agency to investigate the crime lab.

Gascon says his task force will look into allegations by inmates in the county jail accusing sheriff's deputies of forcing them to fight other prisoners.

The probe extends to the police department, that's embroiled in its own scandal -- racist text messages that cops were exchanging with former Officer Ian Furminger, who was convicted of public corruption.

"I find them repulsive," Gascon said. "In my entire 30 plus year career in law enforcement, these are some of the worst allegations that I've seen."

And now there's a third investigation into the beleaguered SFPD crime lab. A criminalist has been charged with altering DNA evidence two years ago, which led to a conviction in a criminal trial.

"And she would testify about those results," Adachi said. "And later on in the trial, we learned that there was another interpretation of that test that was done and that interpretation excluded our client."

In 2010, drug testing at the crime lab was shut down when criminalist Deborah Madden admitted she stole cocaine evidence for her personal use. The scandal forced prosecutors to dismiss more than 1,000 cases.

Suhr says this time he's looking at more than 1,500 cases, which the criminalist and her supervisor were involved in.

"Looking to do a complete audit of any work this criminalist touched and any work that her supervisor approved," said the police chief. "If we determine there's any problems, all those cases will be reworked."

And now there are questions over the criminalist's competency as a DNA analyst. Documents show she flunked a regular proficiency test last August and her supervisor failed to catch it.

Both are on personal leave.
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