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Acquittal of police officer Terrance Stangel disappoints SF prosecutors

Prosecutors expressed disappointment after a jury’s acquittal Monday of a San Francisco police officer accused in the 2019 beating of an unarmed Black man with a police baton.

The jury found Officer Terrance Stangel not guilty of three of the four charges, including battery, assault with a deadly weapon and assault likely to cause great bodily injury. On the fourth charge for assault under color of authority, the jury was unable to agree, resulting in a mistrial on that count.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin first announced charges against Stangel back in December 2020 in connection with the encounter, which left Dacari Spiers with a broken leg and wrist, as well as lacerations to his leg.

Stangel became the first on-duty officer in the city’s history to be tried in court for such crimes.

After Monday’s verdict, a statement from Boudin’s office thanked the jury for their consideration and shared the disappointment of Boudin and other prosecutors:

We respect the jury process, although we remain disappointed that police accountability remains so elusive and difficult to achieve. … I am committed to continuing to hold those who commit harm accountable — regardless of the uniform they may wear or the badge they may carry.”

Boudin noted that last month, the city and county of San Francisco settled a lawsuit with Spiers for $700,000 for his beating. He also commended the prosecutors in his office who handled the case: Hans Moore, Rebecca Young, and Lateef Gray.

Boudin said:

They fought an uphill battle to hold a police officer — backed by the powerful [union] — accountable for severely beating an unarmed Black man. … Our work to hold those who harm our community members accountable continues. No one is above the law — including those tasked with enforcing it. We are committed to protecting the right of all people to be safe.”

On Oct. 7, 2019, Stangel and his partner, Officer Cuahtemoc Martinez, responded to the Fisherman’s Wharf area after 911 callers reported a man choking a woman. At the scene, a struggle ensued between Spiers and the two officers.

At one point, Martinez brought Spiers to the ground and Stangel struck Spiers’ legs with a baton several times.

Although Spiers was not arrested, he was handcuffed and later cited for obstructing an officer.

Spiers required surgery and stitches and was wheelchair-bound during his recovery, according to prosecutors.

Stangel’s attorney Nicole Pifari has maintained Stangel and his partner acted lawfully as they attempted to protect the public from a potentially dangerous situation.

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