San Francisco police beat up and detain Good Samaritans who call 911 and perform first aid on accident victim

Peretz Partensky and her his friend had just had a dinner at a restaurant in San Francisco's SOMA district when they happened on an injured woman who had fallen off her bicycle. They called 911 and performed first aid while they waited for emergency services. When the police got there, they beat up Partensky's friend and detained him, and when Partensky objected, they cuffed, brutalized and arrested him. Injured and in an holding cell, she asked to see a doctor, and the SFPD deputies on duty at the jail stripped him naked and threw him in solitary confinement and marked him as a candidate for psychiatric evaluation.

Partensky complained to the SF Office of Citizen Complaints, documenting him plight in eye-watering detail (Partensky works for a company that supplies software to the restaurant on whose doorstep the entire incident took place, and they were happy to hand him CCTV footage of the incident). The entire procedure then went dark, because in San Francisco, you aren't allowed to know what happens to police officers who beat you up, thanks to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights.

One of the officers who harassed, beat, and wrongfully arrested Partensky, Paramjit Kaur, is already the subject of a civil rights suit. The other SFPD personnel who attacked and arrested the Good Samaritans are Officers Gerrans and Andreott.

For Partensky, the take-away message is clear: if you see someone who needs medical assistance, don't call 911, because the police might come and beat you up. Instead, help that person get to the hospital in a taxi.

In the hope that it might help some other idealistic, nerdy people from following me down that rabbit hole, I conclude with several public service announcements:

* Don’t call 911. Obviously, there are exceptions, but the sad lesson is, there are fewer than you’d think.

* Call Lyft to take you to the hospital. (Worked well when I broke my elbow.)

* Take such incidents to trial, where justice isn’t veiled by the POBAR. It’s not a matter of litigious vindictiveness. It’s just the only available way. The SF Office of Citizen Complaints is not a valid alternative.

* Consider wearing a video camera at all times. It has been shown that when police wear cameras and are aware of being filmed, it moderates their behavior. As self reports of the need to use force decrease, so do complaints.

Good Samaritan Backfire: or How I Ended Up in Solitary After Calling 911 for Help [Peretz Partensky/Medium]

Notable Replies

  1. Somehow commenters always find a way to call the victim a smartass, a jerk looking for attention, or some other form of idiot who brought it on themselves. You'd think you might have tried a little harder, though, and blamed him with something he said before he was in tackled, arrested, put in solitary and being called crazy.

  2. Being a smartass is enough to get brutalized? I can understand when someone who's annoying or ignoring directions gets ticket/small fine but getting beaten, humiliated and imprisoned because you didn't show the proper deference? What happened to "innocent until proven guilty", checks and balances and the rule of law in the US?
    It is the Land of the Free ... free to grovel like a subservient peasant to everyone with a badge 'cause they can do what the fuck they want with you. I thought you had the whole Independence-Constitution-shebang to get rid of exactly this situation. This behavior is more appropriate for secret police thugs in some sort of third-world dictatorial shithole.

    I'm baffled about the amount of power US law enforcement wields. It's virtually immune to legal recourse when it oversteps it's bounds, allowed to use lethal force/violence in situations were it's clearly not warranted, is allowed to lie/decept/threaten the suspect, exonerating evidence can be ignored by police or DA etc.

    On the other hand as a citizen I'm not allowed to lie to an LEO and even the slightest movement/resistance can be interpreted as assault on an officer - we had articles at BB were even an insult or protecting ones face from a beating was interpreted as assault or resisting.

    At least where I live I have a modicum of constitutionally guarantied rights (that are actually respected and those rights are not some papers cops and politicians wipe their ass with) that protect me from an abuse like this.

  3. angusm says:

    “On arrival at the scene, found two injured persons. When I instructed the male subject to step away from them, subject identified himself as a 'good Samaritan'. I responded that I would be the judge of whether he was good or not, and required him to show a visa or other authorization to be in the country. At this point, subject claimed to be an American citizen, a statement clearly inconsistent with his previous self-identification as a Samaritan. I therefore arrested the subject for giving false information to a law enforcement officer. During the arrest, subject resisted by repeatedly placing his hands under my boots in an attempt to cause me to lose my balance, and struck my knee with his head. Subsequently, subject attempted to obtain personal information about arresting officers, probably with a view to intimidating or attacking them.

    While completing arrest report, was unable to find any evidence to show that Samarita has any diplomatic representation in United States. Recommend referral to DHS/ICE to investigate possibility that subject is in country illegally, possibly with intent to commit an act of terrorism.”

  4. enso says:

    All the people here saying "Oh, there is more to the story" or "Oh, the author is obnoxious," I've got news for you: It is a police officer's job to calmly and professionally deal with the public, usually in moments of stress. It is on THEM to keep their shit together and act like a professional, not Joe Citizen. If you're a cop and you can't do this, you should go join the army or something if carrying a gun and throwing your authoritay around is that important to you.

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