San Francisco DA Boudin's office 'threatened' investigator multiple times to withhold evidence: transcript

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A whistleblower accused San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office of threatening her “three different times” in an effort to withhold certain evidence in the case of a police officer accused of using unnecessary force against a civilian, according to local reports.

Boudin first announced charges against San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Officer Terrance Stangel in December 2020. Stangel is accused of unnecessarily beating a man named Dacari Spiers with a baton in October 2019, breaking Spires’ wrist and leg, while responding to a domestic violence call.

Magen Hayashi, an investigator for the DA’s office, testified on Jan. 27 that she was threatened multiple times and felt she would be fired if she did not withhold certain evidence in the case against Stangel, according to a transcript of the hearing obtained by The San Francisco Examiner.

Chesa Boudin shares his thoughts during the SF City Insider podcast at the San Francisco Chronicle in San Francisco Aug. 28, 2019. 

Chesa Boudin shares his thoughts during the SF City Insider podcast at the San Francisco Chronicle in San Francisco Aug. 28, 2019. 
(Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

“I was threatened by attorneys three different times that if I didn’t agree with their warrant they would report me to DA Boudin and that we were looking at termination possibilities,” Hayashi testified in San Francisco Superior Court, according to the reported transcript. “My lieutenant assisted me with this because it was such a severe problem, and he was fired.”

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She added that there appeared to be “an understanding” within the DA’s office that evidence is sometimes withheld in cases of officer misconduct.

Hayashi told the judge that she never disclosed information from a female witness who claimed to see Spiers beating a woman before Stangel hit him with a baton and that she feared she would be fired if she did, the outlet reported.

The judge reportedly said no significant evidence appeared to have been withheld, and Hayashi’s testimony likely would not impact the case, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

SFPD bodycam footage from Dacari Spiers/Torrance Stangle incident. 

SFPD bodycam footage from Dacari Spiers/Torrance Stangle incident. 
(SFPD/Vimeo)

A court filing from Stangel’s attorney, Nicole Pifari, includes a transcript from the witness to 911, which is what initially led police to respond to the 2019 incident.

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The 911 call transcript: “I would like to report … I think it’s called domestic violence or something because, um, there’s this guy who is beating up on this girl. … He’s like, um, holding her like by the neck, like draggin’ her by the neck. … She was trying to get away, then he grabbed, and then he got her again.”

A second witness described similar details in a statement included in Pifari’s motion.

Hayashi testified last week that attorneys within the DA’s office instructed her to remove a “significant amount of information from the 911 callers,” and then an assistant district attorney “wrote a comment … saying to remove it, that it was not relevant information to the case,” the Examiner reported.

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The investigator also testified that there have been multiple instances in which she has been asked to suppress information.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, foreground right, speaks between chief of staff David Campos, left, and assistant district attorney Rachel Marshall at a news conference in San Francisco, Nov. 23, 2020.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, foreground right, speaks between chief of staff David Campos, left, and assistant district attorney Rachel Marshall at a news conference in San Francisco, Nov. 23, 2020.
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

“That occurred at multiple times in my tenure,” she said. “When investigators or someone would call to ask for information, if I didn’t know I’d ask the attorney, and there were different attorneys that said the same thing, that would say, ‘Tell them we don’t know. We don’t have any plans’ or ‘no comment,’ something to that effect.”

Spiers filed a federal lawsuit against the city of San Francisco in February 2020, which states that he was “consoling his girlfriend about the theft” of her wallet before the attack, “and the two were leaning against the car and were engaged in hugging and kissing each other.”

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The lawsuit then alleges that two or more officers approached Spiers at that moment and abruptly grabbed him. Spiers and his girlfriend begged the officers to stop, and he was left with “horrendous blows with his hands and wrists, which caused severe injuries, including a severely broken wrist,” the complaint states. Spier is accusing the city of violating his civil rights.

Video footage of the incident released last year shows a chaotic scene in which Spiers questions officers’ use of force, saying he didn’t do anything. 

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Prior to Stangel’s case, the DA’s office and SFPD had a memorandum of understanding to work in collaboration in cases of officer misconduct. SFPD Chief Scott terminated that memorandum Feb. 3, saying in a statement that “very serious concerns” about Hayashi’s testimony have been brought to his attention. 

“I have reviewed the court transcripts where the DA investigator provided testimony to the court, under oath, showing that the spirit and the letter of MOU processes and procedures we agreed upon have not been followed by the DA’s Office. … It appears that the DA’s Office has an ongoing practice of investigations against SFPD officers that includes withholding and concealing information and evidence the SFPD is entitled to have to further ancillary criminal investigations in accordance with the MOU,” Scott said.

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