- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO, March 1 (UPI) — Going well beyond what was expected, a grand jury indicted the San Francisco police chief and other top police executives on charges they obstructed the investigation of a brawl by three off-duty officers, one of them the son of the assistant chief, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Ten police officials were indicted Thursday night, officials said, among them Police Chief Earl Sanders, a department veteran and a friend of Mayor Willie Brown who has been in the chief's office only since July.

The Police Commission met Friday night and is expected to name acting police officials to be installed in the place of those accused.

The case has been simmering for weeks, since the son of Assistant Chief Alex Fagan Jr. and two other officers were accused for attacking two men in an off-duty fight over a bag of steak fajitas.

District Attorney Terence Hallinan canceled a news conference and refused to comment. Two sources told the Chronicle that the grand jury went far beyond what the district attorney had asked for in indicting the police department's top brass.

Chief Sanders and the other police officials surrendered to authorities late Friday, charged with conspiring to obstruct justice. Their bail was set at $15,000 apiece.

The grand jury acted after Lt. Joe Dutto, who investigated the incident, testified for five hours. He had been transferred off the case in January.

Police had been forced to admit that the investigation of the fight had skipped many routine steps while not reaching any conclusion.

The grand jury also indicted the three rank and file police officials allegedly involved in the brawl, charging them with felony assault.

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