Former SF police chief sues city, former DA
Saturday September 11, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Former Police Chief Earl Sanders has sued the city and former District Attorney Terence Hallinan, claiming malicious prosecution.
Sanders, who was charged, then quickly cleared last year of obstructing the investigation of a fight involving off-duty officers, said Hallinan ``wrongfully convened a grand jury ... knowing he did not have one scintilla of evidence,'' according to the suit filed Friday.
The case stemmed from a November 2002 brawl in which two men accused three off-duty officers, including Alex Fagan Jr., son of then-Assistant Chief Alex Fagan, of attacking them because they refused to hand over a bag of fajitas.
Sanders and six other high-ranking police officials were indicted in February 2003 on charges of obstructing the investigation, but the charges were dismissed by prosecutors or thrown out by a judge, and Sanders was later declared factually innocent by a judge.
Sanders retired in August 2003 after a 39-year police career. The three lower-ranking officers are still awaiting trial.
In response to the lawsuit, Hallinan said prosecutors are legally immune from damages for their decisions to file charges but said he was prepared to defend his handling of the case.
``I would welcome the opportunity to try that issue of whether there was a coverup,'' Hallinan told the San Francisco Chronicle Friday, noting Sanders would be required to prove there were no grounds for an indictment.
The suit, filed in federal court, does not specify damages.
Uber liberal Terrence Hallinan was voted out of office in the last election.