In 2019, a San Francisco police officer was found not guilty of three counts of assault and battery after breaking Dacari Spiers’ wrist and leg with his baton.
Officer Terrance Stangel was found not guilty of the three charges on Monday, but the jury was deadlocked on a fourth allegation of unlawfully hitting Spiers under color of authority.
The event that led to the accusations and trial occurred on Oct. 7, 2019, when Stangel and his colleague, Officer Cuauhtemoc Martinez, were responding to 911 calls of a man choking and dragging a lady when they came across Spiers and his then-girlfriend.
Martinez grabs Spiers and orders him to lean against the wall, according to body camera footage.
Prosecutors claim that neither cop gave Spiers any legitimate commands before Stangle began hitting him with his Baton. With his baton, Stangle struck Spiers at least seven times, shattering his wrist and leg.
Prosecutors contended throughout the trial that Stangel ignored his police training to de-escalate and assess the situation, instead escalating it. Despite the fact that Spiers fought and questioned the cops’ approaches, prosecutors told jurors that he acted legally.
“Five strikes when he’s lying on the ground, in the fetal position, writhing in pain, is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of assault and battery,” Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Young said during closing arguments in the three-week trial.
Stangel’s lawyer painted her client as a well-intentioned officer attempting to protect his colleague from a “violent” and “assaultive” Spiers. To back up its position, the defense summoned two expert witnesses, including an SFPD training officer who claimed the beating was justified.
“I was trying to get him to stop fighting my partner and I was trying to us get out of the situation without getting hurt,” Stangel said during his testimony.
Assistant District Young said the not guilty verdict was “hugely disappointing.” She said she believed “there was abundant evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of an assault by excessive force once Dacari Spiers was on the ground and was being held down by his partner.”