Charges dropped against SF firefighter who hit motorcyclist

Byby Sergio Quintana KGO logo
Friday, March 20, 2015
Charges thrown out in SF firefighter hit case
The San Francisco firefighter accused of being drunk and causing a crash had criminal charges against him dropped.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Charges were thrown out for the San Francisco firefighter accused of being drunk and causing a serious crash. The judge handed down the decision on Friday saying there was a lack of evidence.

However, with video evidence some are asking how could this happen? This is a story the ABC7 News I-Team has been investigating for months.

This is a surprising decision because prosecutors have disturbing video of the crash and ABC7 News was told there was video of the firefighter chugging pitchers water in a nearby restaurant after the crash, in an apparent attempt to sober up.

Video of the crash, that happened on June 23, 2013, shows motorcyclist Jack Frazier has the green light. The fire truck driven by, then-firefighter Michael Quinn, has emergency lights and sirens on, but doesn't slow down to make sure the intersection is clear. The 32-ton ladder truck slams into Frazier, his motorcycle and his body flies into the curb and a hydrant.

ABC7 News spoke to Frazier's attorney by phone. Chuck Koro said, "I'm extremely disappointed and angry."

Koro is an attorney who specializes in motorcycle accident cases. He is currently suing the city of San Francisco and Michael Quinn who has since quit the fire department.

Quinn had been facing felony DUI charges, but there were problems with the evidence. The judge dismissed breathalyzer tests, given by Quinn's fellow firefighters after the crash because their equipment was not properly calibrated. That meant police officers had no probable cause to arrest Quinn and administer a blood test, which itself was not useful in this case because blood wasn't administered until six hours after the crash.

Frazier's attorney quickly questioned why Quinn didn't face different charges. Koro said, "They never charged him with felony hit and run, which to me was a slam dunk."

After this horrific crash, witnesses told the I-Team that the Chieftain Bar and Pub has surveillance video of Quinn being given lots of water inside the business, possibly by fellow firefighters. Koro told ABC7 News Quinn didn't return to talk with San Francisco police for two hours.

The San Francisco District Attorney's Office issued a short statement after Friday's dismissal saying, "We completely disagree with the decision and are exploring all appellate options."

Quinn had been out on bail and walked out of court Friday a free man.