The Foregone Conclusion for SFPD Officer Nate Seger
July, 20 2016 (Fault Lines) – If you are arrested and charged with a crime in this country the place where you spend the time during which an investigation is conducted is called jail. Unless you have money, in which case you can bail out. This money is supposed to insure you will show up for trial.
If you’re a cop like Sgt. Nate Steger you get a new position.
Steger and Officer Michael Mellone shot and killed a homeless man named Louis Gongora within 30 seconds of jumping out of their car while responding to a call about a man with a knife.
In a mind-boggling move, Steger was then reassigned to a unit tasked with heading the reforms to prevent that kind of shooting. San Francisco Supervisor David Campos nutshelled it nicely:
It is shocking to hear that given that the Gongora case is still under investigation, that one of the officers involved, and thus may have been involved in misconduct, is working in a department unit heading reforms, It sends a horrible message to the Gongora family and the community at large. It is further proof that the department doesn’t get it and needs reform.
This is the presumption of innocence enjoyed by cops. Kill someone, keep your job, still get paid, get reassigned. No jail, no need for bail.
Ironically, Steger wrote an intro to a 2015 Police Officers Association story about a breathing technique to calm oneself during the type of incident he was recently involved in:
This practice not only makes officers react to situations from a place of calmness and mindfulness. For many of us, however, in this highly stressful yet noble profession, we have failed to integrate this practice into the fabric of our personal and professional lives because it hasn’t yet become a part of our training. Until now.
This particular case has plenty of conflicting witnesses and certainly suggests a foregone conclusion at least on the part of the SFPD that their guy will be cleared of all wrongdoing, despite. as has been reported at Fault Lines, that this was such a bad shoot in violation of SFPD policy that even former Police Chief Greg Suhr couldn’t get behind it.
Former police commissioner Angela Chan voiced her experience:
When I was on the Police Commission, I was very concerned about investigations still being pending and the Police Department jumping to the conclusion that they could go ahead and act like the shooting was in policy. The message to other officers is that officer-involved shooting investigations are not objective, they’re not thorough and, oftentimes, the conclusion that the shooting was in policy is assumed at the outset.
Local outrage brought a quick end to Steger’s tenure as a Champion of reform and he agreed to be reassigned last week.