Investigative Process

Independence
of the Unit:

  • IIB reports directly to the District Attorney

  • IIB works autonomously and independently of every other unit within the District Attorney’s Office

  • Exclusively works on police use of force cases and post-conviction claims of innocence

  • All final reports written by IIB are submitted to the California Department of Justice and posted on the office’s website

  • The press is also notified of every decision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investigative Process 

IIB investigates and independently reviews all officer use of force allegations, including officer-involved shooting incidents resulting in injury or death. The team also reviews all other use of force resulting in death of individuals while in custody or under the control of law enforcement officers. IIB’s investigation and review does not consider issues of civil liability, tactics, and departmental policies and procedures; the only inquiry is whether the officer(s) involved committed any violation of criminal law.

The office has reached an agreement with the San Francisco Police Department on the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") outlining how criminal investigations of officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths, and uses of force resulting in serious bodily injury will be handled. The MOU, however, is still pending the meet and confer stage. The SFPD General Order on Officer Involved Shootings and SFPD General Order on In-Custody Deaths are currently in place.

A team of inspectors and attorneys from IIB are on call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. When a covered incident (i.e., an officer-involved shooting or in-custody death) occurs and IIB is notified, the on-call team responds.

IIB attorneys are involved in every aspect of the investigative process and are also responsible for evaluating evidence and recommending decisions to the District Attorney. Working under the direction and leadership of IIB attorneys, IIB inspectors serve as the primary law enforcement investigators on these matters.

Review and Charging Decision

Three fundamental principles guide IIB assessments: (1) evidence-based factual analysis; (2) fidelity to the law; and (3) scrupulous adherence to prosecutorial ethics.

Held to the same standard as all prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office, IIB attorneys will only recommend criminal charges to the District Attorney when they believe that based on all admissible evidence they would be able to prove unlawful conduct beyond a reasonable doubt. When charges are filed, IIB handles all aspects of prosecution up to and including trial and sentencing.

For all officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths where criminal charges are not warranted, a report summarizing IIB’s review of the matter will be made public and available on the SFDA website. These reports, including previous decisions of the office since 2010 on officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, are available here.