City May Escape Fajitagate

San Francisco may finally be on the verge of extracting itself from the court battles over the 2002 street fight that prompted the city’s so-called fajitagate scandal.

If your memory needs refreshing, the district attorney tried prosecuting the three cops involved in an off-duty fight with two civilian men, but those efforts fizzled with acquittals in criminal court several months ago.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office, though, still has to contend with the two civilians’ federal suit, which claims that the city and some of its top police brass train cops badly and condone the use of excessive force.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White hinted the city might be close to nipping that suit in the bud when he tentatively granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

But the plaintiffs still have a chance to save their case. White’s tentative order posed six detailed questions that he still wanted answered before he makes a final ruling. Friday’s hearing on the motion took three hours.

No word yet on when White will make his final ruling. Any way you cut it, though, the curtain won’t be coming down on the 3-year-old fight for a while yet. The plaintiffs could always appeal an unfavorable ruling from White. And if the federal case peters out, they’ll still have state court, where their case against the off-duty cops continues.

— Pam Smith

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