A jury voted not guilty on three counts and could not reach a verdict on a fourth count against Officer Terrance Stangel for his beating of Dacari Spiers with a baton, breaking numerous bones. The trial was believed to be the first trial of an on-duty officer for excessive force in San Francisco history.
Officer Stangel beat Spiers with a baton on October 6,2019, breaking Mr. Spiers’s bones and severely impacting his life. In December of 2020, the District Attorney’s Office charged Officer Stangel with felony charges of Battery with Serious Bodily Injury (Penal Code Section 243(d)); Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Penal Code Section 245(a)(1)); Assault with Force Likely to Cause Great Bodily Injury (Penal Code Section 245(a)(4)); and Assault under Color of Authority (Penal Code Section 149)).
Trial began in January of 2022, and, after four days of deliberation, the jury voted not guilty on the first three counts, and the jury was hung and could not reach a verdict as to count 4, Assault under Color of Authority.
“I thank the jury for their careful consideration of this case over the course of four full days of deliberation, which shows the complex and difficult questions with which they were wrestling,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “We respect the jury process, although we remain disappointed that police accountability remains so elusive and difficult to achieve. I am committed to continuing to hold those who commit harm accountable—regardless of the uniform they may wear or the badge they may carry. No one should be above the law, and my office will continue to fight to ensure that all communities are safe.”
On the evening of October 6, 2019, Dacari Spiers was on a date with his girlfriend at Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco Police Department Officers Terrance Stangel and Cuahtemoc Martinez responded to a 911 call report of a man assaulting a woman. Once on scene, they were directed to Mr. Spiers and his girlfriend, who were standing close to each other and not touching. It is undisputed that officers did not observe any physical violence or unlawful conduct by either of them.
Police body camera footage captured much of the incident. Within seconds of arriving, Officer Martinez, in clear violation of his training, ordered Mr. Spiers to “get over here” and seconds later to “face the wall”, while ignoring questions by him and his girlfriend about what he had done. Officer Martinez immediately tried to grab Mr. Spiers, who insisted he had not done anything, and officers ignored Mr. Spiers’s girlfriend, who was screaming, “No!” and “What did he do?” Officer Stangel then struck him 7-8 times with a metal baton—including 5 strikes while he was on the ground in the fetal position.
Officer Stangel broke Mr. Spiers’s wrist and leg, requiring surgery to repair. Mr. Spiers also suffered numerous lacerations to his legs that required stitches. Following the attack, he was forced to use a wheelchair during his recovery.
Last month, the City and County of San Francisco settled a lawsuit with Mr. Spiers for $700,000 for his beating by San Francisco police. Just last week, a federal judge found that SFPD had intentionally and in “bad faith” withheld evidence in Mr. Spiers’s civil case.
Throughout this trial, the San Francisco POA fought aggressively to defend its member. SFPD’s own training officer, Officer Patrick Woods, testified in defense of the use of violence against an unarmed Black man who was not observed by officers committing a crime. The defense dehumanized Mr. Spiers and dragged his name through the mud in an open courtroom, despite Mr. Spiers not being on trial.
“Accountability is so important to correct the excessive uses of force that we have seen in San Francisco over the past decade or more,” said Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Susan Feng-Yi Young, one of the prosecutors on this case. “We thank the jury for their attentiveness to the evidence. We are also dismayed that Dacari Spiers’s community was not represented in the jury, which is an all-too-common flaw in our jury system. I hope going forward that the POA does not continue its extreme politicization of these trials.”
“We respect the jury process and we thank the jurors for spending four days deliberating on this case, which demonstrates that there were real issues of debate and concern,” said Assistant District Attorney Hans Moore, a prosecutor on the case. “We are reminded of the uphill battle to hold police accountable. Despite the challenges, we will continue our work to hold officers who break the law accountable as no one is above the law.”
“This case was about Officer Stangel’s conduct, but throughout this trial, the defense vilified Dacari Spiers, the victim in this case,” said Lateef Gray, Managing Attorney of the District Attorney’s Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB) unit. “When we spoke to the jurors, they expressed what a tough decision it was and asked about whether SFPD will change its practices as a result of this case. We hope that they will.”
“I commend the hard, historic work of prosecutors Hans Moore, Rebecca Young, and Lateef Gray in this case, as they fought an uphill battle to hold a police officer—backed by the powerful POA—accountable for severely beating an unarmed Black man,” said District Attorney Boudin. “Our work to hold those who harm our community members accountable continues. No one is above the law—including those tasked with enforcing it. We are committed to protecting the right of all people to be safe.”