As so many cops have done in the past, San Francisco County deputy Michael R. Lewelling violently arrested a citizen for no apparent reason, justifying it by conjuring lies on the arrest report.
The difference here was not only were his actions captured on a surveillance video, but that prosecutors decided to use that footage to charge Lewelling with four felonies.
And only after they obtained the surveillance footage to make a determination whether to charge the man Lewelling had arrested, which is, in itself, a rare act as prosecutors generally just take police reports as gospel before proceeding with prosecution.
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.
The case against the victim was presented by the Sheriff’s Department to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office on Nov. 4. That same day the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office declined to charge the case and submitted a request for video evidence of the incident, prosecutors said.
“The fact that a Sheriff’s Deputy allegedly battered a patient at San Francisco General Hospital is unnerving,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “What’s worse is that he’s also alleged to have perjured himself on a police report, unforgivable conduct that led to the arrest of the innocent victim.”