CRIME

San Francisco Public Defender Files Complaint About Her 'Rough' Arrest (VIDEO)

02/06/2015 04:26 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO -- A deputy public defender who was arrested in a widely seen video filed a complaint against the San Francisco Police Department on Thursday.

Jami Tillotson was handcuffed, allegedly for resisting arrest, on Jan. 27 when she tried to intervene as a police sergeant detained and took photos of her client and another man in a courthouse corridor. The charge against Tillotson has since been dropped, and Police Chief Greg Suhr publicly apologized during a meeting of the city's Police Commission on Wednesday. But the chief still defended Sgt. Brian Stansbury's actions.

Tillotson maintains that police were wrong to try to separate her from her client, an African-American man, as he was questioned and photographed by police.

"While I appreciate Chief Suhr's apology, I am concerned that he continues to support Sgt. Brian Stansbury's actions. My client, a young African American man, was left without the benefit of advice of counsel," she said in a statement released Thursday. "The right to counsel is not a formality. It is a shield that protects ordinary people against intimidation, bullying, and overreach by law enforcement."

Tillotson has filed a complaint with the Office of Citizen Complaints against six officers involved in her arrest. She argues that she was acting in her role as a defense attorney, that her client was left without the benefit of counsel, and that an officer was "unreasonably rough" while she was in handcuffs.

Read the full complaint below.

"Anyone can file a complaint if they are not satisfied with police services," said Officer Albie Esparza, a department spokesman, in an email to HuffPost.

Tillotson's client and his co-defendant had been in court on Jan. 27 for a misdemeanor theft charge, according to SFGate.com. When Stansbury learned the two men were in the Hall of Justice, he sought them out because they are possible burglary suspects, SFGate reported.

Tillotson had been in the holding tank interviewing another client when she was told that police were questioning the pair in the hallway, according to her complaint.

The YouTube video showing the lawyer's arrest, which was released by the San Francisco Public Defender's Office, has been seen almost 1.4 million times. It begins with Tillotson standing between two black men against a hallway wall when a man in a jacket and tie, identified later as Stansbury, appears.

The audio is muffled, but the conversation appears in subtitles.

"Look. You can either step aside, ... take pictures ... two minutes, or we can make this ..." Stansbury says.

"I'm pretty sure that we're OK here," Tillotson responds. "We don't need any pictures taken, thank you."

"No, you're not pretty sure," Stansbury says. "If you continue with this ... I'll arrest you for resisting arrest."

"Please do," she says, at which point the sergeant places handcuffs on Tillotson with her arms behind her back. A uniformed cop leads her away, and Stansbury begins snapping photos of the two men.

A new video, released Thursday by the Public Defender's Office but also recorded the day of the arrest, shows an officer walking the handcuffed lawyer down a staircase and toward a police department office inside the Hall of Justice. At the end of the clip, the officer tells the man recording the footage that he must turn off his camera because they're in a "secure zone."

Jami Tillotson complaint against SFPD

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