A San Francisco public defender was arrested Wednesday for doing what many public defenders don’t have a good rap for doing.
Defending her client.
But police called that resisting arrest, the only charged they jailed her on after they led her away in handcuffs in an incident caught on video.
Jami Tillotson willfully took the arrest rather than kowtow to their demands to allow them to photograph and question her client, not resisting in the slightest.
And she had every right to intervene between the cop and her client, who had a Fifth Amendment right not to talk to the cops or follow their orders in how he should pose for their photos, which they said was for an investigation unrelated to the misdemeanor theft charge he was in court for.
The Tuesday afternoon arrest of attorney Jami Tillotson as she denied police officers’ attempts to take photos of her client without explanation raised questions about police intimidation and harassment, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said at a Wednesday news conference.
But police said the five officers, led by a plainclothes sergeant, were investigating a burglary case in which Tillotson’s client and his co-defendant were considered persons of interest. Tillotson was cited for misdemeanor resisting or delaying arrest because she obstructed a police investigation, officials said.
“I was arrested for what we do as public defenders every day,” Tillotson said of the encounter, which was captured in a video that the public defender’s office posted on YouTube. “I asked questions. I talked to my client and explained to him his rights. At that point, I was told I was interfering and taken into custody.”
Tillotson should be commended for her fighting spirit because public defenders rarely even make an attempt to get to know their clients.
Take the outrageous case out of Seattle where a 69-year-old man was arrested for swing a golf club at a cop when dash cam video shows he was only using it as a cane and never even raised it.
His public defender had him sign an agreement where the charges would be dropped if he didn’t get arrested again for two years, but with cops like the one who arrested him, he didn’t have to do anything wrong to get arrested.
But Tillson probably knows she now has a strong civil case against the police department, which probably explains her willingness to be arrested.
Not that the cops didn’t realize they would likely get sued. They just didn’t care.