Friday, September 27, 2013

Why No Charge in SF Fireman's Drunk Ride Injuring a Motorcyclist?

In San Francisco, under ambitious political animal and District Attorney George Gascon, Lady Justice is not blind.

You may recall that the sheriff and police departments, and the DA's office, took mere weeks last year to investigate and charge me, leading to my arrest and having a $25,000 bail set, when the District 8 member of the Board of Supervisor complained after I snapped his photo at a sink in a public restroom at City Hall.

However, three months after a well-documented episode of a member of San Francisco "city family", as Mayor Ed Lee calls municipal employees, was drunk on the job, and seriously harmed a motorcyclist, the employee has not been charged by the DA. Here's the background from Dan Noyes of KGO-TV:

Firefighter Michael Quinn, 43, had just left station one in a ladder truck on a Saturday night in June, on what turned out to be a false alarm. He drove three blocks until the surveillance video picks up. That's 5th Street heading right to left [in the video above].

The motorcycle came west on Howard, the road that's top to bottom. Quinn blew through a red light and smashed into the motorcycle, sending the rider into a fire hydrant. Fire department rules state the driver has to have control of an intersection before going through. That did not happen in this case.

I can now identify the victim as 50-year-old Jack Frazier of Daly City. He suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken leg, ankle, foot, and neck and back injuries. He was in the hospital for a month and continues rehabilitation to this day.

It's been widely reported that Quinn drove the fire truck under the influence of alcohol, tried to sober up with the assistance of other city family members of the fire department by chugging water at a local bar near their fire station (caught on a surveillance camera), and an innocent motorcyclist was grievously harmed, faces additional catastrophic medical care unsure if he'll ever recover.

But Gascon has yet to bring any charge against Quinn. I asked DA spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman why this is the situation and she replied:

The case is currently under investigation. Therefore, we are unable to comment on it at this time.

While the DA contemplates charging Quinn, I ponder what message goes out when a few months transpire and a drunken on-duty fireman violates several laws and seriously injures a man, because of what the DA said at the start of my case, as reported by the Bay City News service:

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon on Wednesday chided a local blogger who is set to be arraigned on disorderly conduct charges Wednesday for taking a photo [of the Supervisor] . . . Gascon said that he wants "to make sure we send a message that that type of behavior is not accepted ... it completely trespasses the social boundary of decency and good sense."

Betraying political bias much, Mr. District Attorney? Want to send a message? Get a blog.

What I believe are factors affecting the swiftness of investigating and charging in my case and that of Quinn are that my victim is a powerful Supervisor with tremendous sway over the DA's budget, and for the fireman because he's part of the city family, much backroom negotiating is taking place before Quinn is potentially charged.

Having twice been steamrollered by the criminal justice system in San Francisco after pissing off powerful persons, I know how the system's machinery grinds the accused down. My goal in writing this is not to press the pedal of the DA's steamroller or to encourage Gascon to unjustly and without cause go after anyone.

Instead, I'm expressing my belief that Lady Justice lifts up her blindfold occasionally to see who the accused and victims are and that the scales she holds can be wrongly weighted.

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