Recent Zodiac References In San Francisco News Media


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By Tom Voigt (Admin) (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - 12.231.193.32) on Monday, October 20, 2003 - 01:45 am:

Mayor, PD Defend Police Actions
November 22, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- Mayor Brown and san francisco police brass are defending the department against charges that officers botched the investigation into a fight involving three off duty cops. Police are investigating allegations that three off-duty officers beat up two men early wednesday morning just after the bars closed on union street.

The case has become mired in controversy, not only because one of the officers is the son of a high ranking police official but also because police sources say the investigating officers who responded to the scene acted improperly. The Mayor, flanked by police brass appeared at this ceremony to promote safe holiday shopping in union square.

But the event quickly turned into an impromptu news conference on the alleged assault. One of the three officers under investigation is the son of Assistant Police Chief Alex Fagan.

"I'm a father first and the assistant police chief second. I've made a statement; there's no impropriety. The evening I received the call I did not respond. I told them to handle it as we would any case of this type."

Police sources say investigating officers who responded to the scene where the fight occurred failed to follow standard police procedures. For one thing, they allowed the three off duty officers to leave the scene without first collecting evidence. And Adam Synder, one of the two men who say they were the victims of the attack, told KRON 4 News that investigators did not ask him or his friend to formally identify the off duty officers.

"I asked if I needed to. I asked if I could. And no answers were given."

The possibility of a tainted probe disturbs district attorney Terence Hallinan, who was briefed by police investigators this morning.

"We are upset by the way this case has been pursued so far. We are, as are the police officers we spoke to and everybody, trying to repair whatever damage there may be."

That criticism did not sit well with Police Chief Earl Sanders.

"Certainly there are always critics of every investigation. There are always critics. We're going into one of our major holiday seasons to celebrate the birth of our very leader of the religious world and I do recall in my readings that he was criticized."

Mayor Willie Brown also defended his police department.

"If there's mutual combat and all of us admit we were there and all of us admit we participated. There's no crime scene to investigate. There's no necessity to identify the participants and the issue surrounding who is responsible will ultimately be determined. You don't need to find out who the zodiac killer is in this."

Meantime, two completely divergent concerns of Jim Collins, the lawyer representing assistant chief Fagan’s son and Mike Guingona, the one representing Jade Santoro, one of his two accusers.

"We hope it is being conducted fairly notwithstanding the fact that the only suspects in this case are San Francisco police officers," said Collins.

"One of my fears is that my client is going to be punished and taken advantage of because of who his dad is," said Guingona.

The three off duty officers have been assigned to desk duty while the investigation continues. District attorney Hallinan says he should have the full police report early next week. Then he'll make a decision whether or not to prosecute the three officers.

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5 Investigates Pt. III - Treatment Access Denied to Mentally Ill Drug Users
July 15, 2003
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) --

The mentally ill living on our streets are often delusional, sometimes hostile, sometimes violent. The police are often the first to come in contact with them.

"We're gonna give you an ice pack." Man tries to leave.

Someone has attacked James Ellison. He needs medical attention.

"Come here James. You can't go in the lane of traffic."

"Get your hands off me."

"Don't spit on me James."

Ellison is too out of it to accept help. By law he cannot be forced.

On the same day, Officer Rich O'Reilly encounters Tinesha Scott. Her case manager has called 911 because Scott is acting strangely. When Officer Rich O'Reilly arrives, she makes bizarre statements about her case manager.

"She was going to kill the little Japanese girl."

Officer: "Why would she do that?"

"She's the Zodiac Killer."

O'Reilly asks what seem like mundane questions, but they are crucial.

"How do you feel today?"

"I feel a little depressed."

"Do you feel like hurting yourself?"

"No I haven't. She made me stick my finger up... and if I didn't she was going to kill the little Japanese girl."

Those questions are crucial because the only way Officer O'Reilly can send Scott to SF General for psychiatric evaluation, is if she wants to hurt herself or others. It's known as a 5150 Hold, after the Penal Code section. But based on the information he has right now, he must let her go. She has broken no law and as bizarre as her behavior is, it is not grounds to take her to the psych ward.

Officer O'Reilly: "I asked the important questions, not wanting to hurt herself or anyone and she's not gravely disabled, so unless the info from her case manager is different, she is not fitting the criteria for 5150."

It turns out the case manager does give police the ammunition they need to send Scott to the psych ward.

"She has not been taking her medication. She's on narcotics and is a danger to herself, therefore a 5150."

The case manager says this is the third time she's had to ask for a 5150 hold on Scott. It's a revolving door. At the psych ward, Scott takes medication and is stabilized. Once released, she stops her meds and deteriorates.

It’s a phenomenon that Dave Kahler knows all too well. It started nine years ago when his son, John, suddenly quit his job.

"He disappeared Memorial Day, 1994 and wound up riding freight trains all the way to Kansas, down to Chicago and LA.'

When Kahler got his son back to Concord, he was diagnosed with mental illness. On medication, John did pretty well, but sometimes he'd stop taking it.

"His whole demeanor changed over that period of time... uncooperative, irritable, less communicative than usual. I had the luxury of observing that indeed without question he needed medication."

But remember, as long as they're not a danger to themselves, or to others, patients cannot be locked up and forced to take medication.

That's why former assemblywoman Helen Thomson introduced AB1421, known as Laura's Law. It provides for involuntary outpatient treatment of the mentally ill if the person is likely to become dangerous or gravely disabled without "treatment."

"It was meant to get treatment for those who resist treatment who are severely mentally ill, who don't volunteer for it."

AB1421 has two big advantages. The person can be forcibly treated before they become dangerous and they are treated as outpatients, not locked in a psych ward. The law was passed at the state level, but now must be adopted county by county.

Doctor Mitch Katz is head of the San Francisco Health Department.

"I'm in favor of being able to treat people who are like that, who benefit from treatment if given, even involuntarily, do well."

Still, he's not in favor of adopting AB1421 in San Francisco.

"Certainly in SF, it would be very contentious to pass it. I think there would be people who would enthusiastically be for it and people who would be very strongly against it and for that reason alone it would be divisive rather than helpful."

Mike Wise and Mark and Julie Adamek are mentally ill. They're against AB1421.

"Let's just ask what you think about the notion of forcing somebody to take their medication."

"I don't believe in forced medication."

"Forced drugging does take away people's right to self choice and that takes away their self-esteem. As a rule of thumb I don't think anyone wants to be forced to do anything. It's much better when a person makes the decision and does something by choice."

It's a civil liberties argument that Thomsen sees as misguided.

"Are we ready in our society to just turn our backs on people who need our help because of this protecting their rights. A lot of people die on the streets with their rights on."

It is too late for Dave Kahler's son, John. He committed suicide earlier this month. His dad says he was taking his medication at the time.

"We had more successes than we did failures, but obviously we had an ultimate failure."

Thomsen hopes her bill will prevent other failures and halt the revolving door of bay area hospitals and jails. In San Francisco, Roz Plater, 5 Investigates.