San Francisco Deputy Sheriff Convicted Of Assault On A Patient At San Francisco General Hospital

News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón


AUGUST 26, 2015


CONTACT:                   Alex Bastian (415) 553-1931


SAN FRANCISCO –District Attorney George Gascón announced today that San Francisco Deputy Sheriff Michael Robert Lewelling, 34, was convicted by a jury of assault by a peace officer in violation of Penal Code section 149, a felony.  He was also convicted of misdemeanor assault in violation of Penal Code section 240.  Lewelling faces a maximum of three years in state prison, which may be served in county jail.

“Anytime an officer violates the law, it is damaging to all of law enforcement. What is even more troubling is that this occurred at a hospital,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “No one is above the law, most of all those who enforce it.”

On November 3, 2014, the victim, Fernando Guanill, 59 years old at the time, was waiting to be seen the emergency department of San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). Guanill also had an appointment with his orthopedic surgeon later that morning at SFGH in order to schedule a much needed knee surgery.  A nurse asked Lewelling to remove Guanill from the waiting room because Guanill was verbally abusive earlier.  Guanill, who is chronically homeless and uses a cane, was sleeping in the waiting room when Lewelling approached him.  After a verbal interaction, Guanill got up and was leaving the waiting room when Lewelling pulled him down to the waiting room chair, with excessive force, and then proceeded to assault Guanill, eventually arresting him.

After the incident, Lewelling filed a report that was presented to the District Attorney’s Office.  The reviewing attorney requested the waiting room video prior to deciding whether to proceed with charges against Guanill.  When the video was reviewed it was discovered that the report did not match the actions on the video.

“This verdict shows that even our most vulnerable populations are protected by the law,” said Assistant District Attorney Nancy Tung. “Mr. Guanill bravely testified about the trauma he suffered and cooperated with the prosecution at every step of the way.”

The jury found Lewelling not guilty of charges relating to allegations that he filed a false report.  The jury also found him not guilty of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.

Lewelling will be sentenced on October 7, 2015, by the Honorable Ellen Chaitin, who presided over the case. The case was investigated by Deputy Brandon Kutches of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, and prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nancy Tung.