Supervisorial candidate excuses police abuse

Pub date March 13, 2009
SectionPolitics Blog

By Steven T. Jones

Scott Wiener seems to have a real zeal for his job as a deputy city attorney defending San Francisco against police abuse lawsuits, but his attitude and public statements raise serious concerns about his goal of being elected to the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors next year.
Take this story, for example, in which Wiener is defending the city in an excessive force case in which Officer Sean Frost and other SFPD officers chased down Chen Ming after being called to a loud argument in SoMa. After they caught him and held him down, Frost hit Ming in the face with his billyclub, breaking Chen’s jaw and knocking out 10 of his teeth.
“The officer did not do anything wrong,” Wiener told the Chronicle, a statement he repeated to me the other day, although he wouldn’t say more about how he arrived at that conclusion (such as whether it was supported by an internal affairs investigation), claiming he could not discuss the facts of the case.
Yet excusing such obviously excessive force — including use of a billyclub in a way that goes against officer training and SFPD general orders, and using extreme violence against a suspect who was down and not threatening anyone — is commenting on the facts of this case.
Wiener could have simply denied the city’s culpability in a general way, but he chose to go further, excusing inexcusable police conduct and sending a scary message to the general public.