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5 San Francisco Police Officers Charged With Stealing From Suspects

A federal grand jury has indicted five San Francisco police officers on charges ranging from extortion to dealing drugs to illegally intimidating suspects.

The AP reports that the cases stem from the release of surveillance videos in 2011. They showed officers walking through "low-income" hotel rooms, illegally searching them and stealing property from suspects.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

"According to indictments unsealed Thursday, Officers Arshad Razzak, 41, Richard Yick, 36, and Raul Eric Elias, 44, all formerly assigned to the Southern police station at the city's Hall of Justice, are accused of conspiring to threaten and intimidate residents of single-room occupancy hotel rooms by entering them without legal justification by using a master key.

"Razzak and Yick also allegedly falsified police incident reports.

"Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, Officer Edmond Robles, 46, and former Officer Reynaldo Vargas, 45, of Palm Desert, engaged in 'multiple criminal conspiracies,' including dealing marijuana, stealing money as well as a $500 Apple gift card and other items from suspects, and stealing money, drugs and other valuable items that were seized on behalf of the city, the indictment said.

"Vargas, who according to records had served 13 years on the force when he was fired in May 2012, used the Apple gift card to buy an iPhone and an iPod Nano at an Apple store in San Francisco, authorities said. Elias has been with the department for 12 years, Robles for 22 years."

The AP reports that the misconduct has forced prosecutors to drop about 100 criminal cases the officers were involved with.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said his department is "shaken."

"This is not only a betrayal of the public's trust," he said, "but also a betrayal of all the men and women of the San Francisco Police Department who work hard every day to do what they can to keep San Francisco safe."

Suhr said he would seek the immediate termination of those officers found guilty of the charges against them.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.