A police officer in San Francisco has had something very rare happen to him: He’s been charged with felonies after a surveillance tape show that he had lied on a police report and had assaulted an injured man in a hospital emergency room. If this shocks you, you haven’t been paying attention.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said San Francisco County Deputy Michael R. Lewelling was charged with four felonies, including perjury and filing a false police report, and misdemeanor battery for the Nov. 3 incident.
Court records show Lewelling, 33, filed a police report alleging that the victim attempted to assault him with a wooden cane at San Francisco General Hospital.
Video evidence reviewed by prosecutors on Friday shows a different story.
Prosecutors said the victim can be seen hunched over in a chair sleeping in the Emergency Room’s waiting area, where he was scheduled to see a doctor later that day. The video shows Lewelling approaching the victim as he is starting to wake up. When the man attempts to walk away, the deputy grabs the back of his collar, pulls him back into the seat and knocks his cane away.
“A few seconds later, he appears to grab the victim’s throat and begins to choke him. The battery continued, and the victim was then placed under arrest,” prosecutors said.
“The victim never raised his cane in a threatening manner,” they added.
I have reported literally dozens, maybe hundreds, of stories just like this over the last 11 years. Now that cell phone cameras are everywhere, we are finding out several things. First, that police misconduct and brutality is far more common than we would otherwise have known without such video. Second, so is lying on police reports.