A San Francisco police officer was found not guilty of the three charges of assault and battery he faced after beating Dacari Spiers with his baton, breaking his wrist and leg, in 2019.
On Monday, a jury found Officer Terrance Stangel not guilty of the three charges but were deadlocked on a fourth charge of unlawfully beating Spiers under color of authority.
The incident leading to the charges and trial occurred on Oct. 7, 2019 when Stangel and his partner, Officer Cuauhtemoc Martinez, encountered Spiers and his then-girlfriend when they were responding to 911 calls of a man choking and dragging a woman.
Body camera video shows Martinez grab Spiers and order him to get against the wall. According to prosecutors, neither officer had given Spiers reasonable commands before Stangle started beating him with his Baton. Stangle struck Spiers at least seven times with his baton breaking his wrist and leg.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that Stangel disregarded his police training to de-escalate and take time to assess the situation and instead escalated it. Although Spiers may have resisted and questioned the officers’ advances, prosecutors told jurors that he acted within his rights.
“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 attorney portrayed her client as a well-meaning officer who was trying to protect his partner from a “violent” and “assaultive” Spiers. The defense called two expert witnesses to support its case, including an SFPD training officer who said 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.”