San Francisco police officer faces prison for unlawful searches

A San Francisco police officer has been convicted of conducting searches and seizures without warrants

A San Francisco police officer could be sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in April after he was convicted of searching suspects' apartments without a warrant and falsifying documents to justify it later.

On Thursday, a federal jury in San Francisco reached a unanimous verdict and convicted Officer Arshad Razzak of conspiracy to violate a person’s civil rights, deprivation of rights, and two counts of falsifying records.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced April 28. A second officer on trial with Razzak was acquitted of all charges.

In December 2010, Razzak and other officers acted on an informant’s tip and crowded into a narrow hallway in front of an apartment in the Henry Hotel in  downtown San Francisco. According to documents Razzak filed later, he and the other officers knocked on the door and when they didn’t get a response, used a master key to slightly open the door and announced they were going to get a warrant to go inside. Razzak reported that a woman inside then gave him and the officers consent to enter, where drugs were found and a man was arrested.

But authorities said the real version of events was very different.

Razzak and the officers used a master key and barged in without a warrant and made arrests, prosecutors said. Weeks later, Razzak was again doing warrantless searches and seizures, they said.

In a hotel security camera video released by the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, Razzak and other officers are seen surrounding a woman in the crowded Henry Hotel hallway in another incident in January 2011. One officer shields a few seconds of the interaction by blocking the camera with his hand. The officers then made the woman open the door and arrested a man inside who was on probation. Heroin was found too.

After the video was seen by a judge, the charges against the man were dropped.

A federal investigation was launched and Razzak was eventually charged.

“There is no place in the San Francisco Police Department — and shouldn’t be in any department — for a dishonest cop,” police Chief Greg Suhr said in a statement.

Suhr said the department was seeking to immediately terminate Razzak to limit his accumulation of pension benefits. The acquitted officer will be reinstated to patrol duty pending the police department's own administrative investigation, officials said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times