(12-07) 14:22 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- A former San Francisco police lieutenant who weathered numerous allegations during his career, including that he loitered around prostitution hot spots, has filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the city.
Jerry Lankford, 54, claims he was forced to retire after being wrongly accused of being unprofessional when he rapped his badge against a Starbucks window while the coffee store was closed.
The 30-year department veteran said he was unfairly placed on unpaid administrative leave in February and had no choice but to retire after being accused of "conduct unbecoming an officer" at the Starbucks in the West Portal neighborhood.
While on his way to work, Lankford, dressed in street clothes and a hoodie, began knocking on the door of the closed store, sources have said. When the clerk ignored him, Lankford allegedly pulled out his badge and began rapping it against the glass.
Lankford left but then returned in uniform and angrily accused store employees of refusing to serve him earlier because he is black, sources said. Someone reported the incident, and Lankford was placed on leave and ordered to turn in his gun and badge.
In a suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Lankford said he had been pushed off the force because of "false, meritless and unfounded accusations of performance issues."
The allegations, he said, were in retaliation for his decision to testify against other officers and for complaining about racial discrimination in the department. Lankford is seeking unspecified damages, reinstatement, back pay and lost benefits.
The city rejected the claims and said Lankford has only himself to blame for his situation.
Lankford is no stranger to controversy.
In 1982, he was suspended for two months after Oakland police said he tried to solicit sex from an undercover officer, though no criminal charges were filed.
In 2003, while off-duty, Lankford was accused of abducting a woman off a Tenderloin street. Again no charges were filed, and the woman's suit against Lankford and the Police Department was settled for about $10,000.
In 2006, following department accusations that he had frequented red-light districts, the Police Commission ruled that Lankford was guilty of three charges related to his having driven through San Francisco and the East Bay with his license plate covered. However, he was never accused of a crime.
Lankford's attorney, Daniel Ray Bacon, said the department cited many of the previous incidents as justification for placing him on leave.
"At some point, you've got to come forward to prove what you're talking about, and they just never did that," Bacon said. "You shouldn't be able to do this to a person who has really a stellar record."
Lankford was awarded the department's silver medal of valor three times and has received numerous letters of appreciation from the community, Bacon said.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Real Police Misconduct
The right-wing blogosphere is replete with allegations of police misconduct, much of it fictional. Just check out Confederate Yankee and their love of a drug addled gun slinger or the conspiracists who see in every terrorist an FBI victim.
But what is really needed is reporting on real criminals with badges, like Jerry Lankford, an affirmative action baby who has been leading the vida loco as a lieutenant on the San Francisco Police Department his whole career. No need for magic disappearing guns or conspiracy theories. This is just plain old affirmative action protecting a useless cop:
All thanks to affirmative action. And, a black District Attorney, who protects fellow blacks. Or a former black mayor who still pulls strings. And, who, by the way, promoted a black detective to lieutenant then to the Chief's position in a matter of days. They can't be fired and if they are, they sue. Perhaps Bob Owens can lend his jaundiced eye to Lankford and the SFPD instead of harassing innocent cops in Las Vegas.