The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office is outraged over the arrest of Deputy Public Defender Jami Tillotson on Tuesday afternoon outside a court room at the Hall of Justice. Police officials are defending their actions, calling them appropriate.
According to SFGate, Tillotson was handcuffed and arrested after she denied police officers’ attempts to take photos of her client without explanation. Their actions raised questions about police intimidation and harassment.
Police officials are defending the actions of the five officers by stating they were investigating a burglary case in which Tillotson’s client and his co-defendant were considered persons of interest.
Tillotson was cited for misdemeanor resisting or delaying arrest because she obstructed a police investigation, officials said. However, Public Defender Jeff Adachi released a video of the incident on YouTube that clearly shows her calm and not resisting when arrested.
“I was arrested for what we do as public defenders every day,” Tillotson said. “I asked questions. I talked to my client and explained to him his rights. At that point, I was told I was interfering and taken into custody.”
Adachi said, “This is not Guantanamo Bay. You have an absolute right to have a lawyer with you when you’re questioned. Ms. Tillotson was simply doing her job.”
SFist.com reported that Tillotson’s client had just made an appearance in Department 17 on the second floor with a co-defendant for a misdemeanor theft charge. When they left the courtroom, plainclothes officer Sgt. Brian Stansbury approached them and started asking questions clearly about an unrelated crime.
The video was filmed by other attorneys with the public defender’s office at the scene of the arrest. Stansbury told Tillotson, “I just want to take some pictures, OK, and he’ll be free to go.” When she declined his request, Stansbury said, “If you continue to do this, I will arrest you for resisting arrest.”
“Please do,” Tillotson responded.
The Public Defender’s Office pointed out that Stansbury was the subject of a 2013 federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a black San Francisco police officer who alleged racial profiling. Stanbury was one of three officers involved in the traffic stop of the off-duty black colleague.
SFGate reported Tillotson was handcuffed to a wall in a holding cell for about an hour while Adachi contacted San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr and Deputy Chief Lyn Tomioka.