- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO, March 11 (UPI) — Obstruction of justice charges against San Francisco's police chief and the department's second-in-command were dropped Tuesday after the district attorney told a judge there was not enough evidence to obtain a conviction.

Charges against five other ranking officers remained in place as did the assault charges against three rookie officers accused of a street beating that their superiors were allegedly covered up.

Chief Earl Sanders and Assistant Chief Alex Fagan had been charged along with two deputy chiefs, a captain, a lieutenant and a sergeant with obstructing the SFPD's internal investigation into a November fight that allegedly involved three reportedly drunken off-duty officers, including Fagan's 23-year-old son, Alex Jr.

Sanders and the other officers had stepped aside pending the outcome of the case. It was not known when the chief and Fagan would return to duty.

District Attorney Terrence Hallinan had not sought the indictment of Sanders and the elder Fagan and requested that the charges against the two be dismissed at a hearing Tuesday before Superior Court Judge Ksenia Tsenin.

Hallinan had alleged to the grand jury that the incident had been glossed over and the SFPD investigation stonewalled by the department's hierarchy, although prosecutors told the grand jury they did not have evidence to support allegations of a conspiracy on the part of Sanders and Fagan.

The investigation and the indictment stirred up a political brouhaha in the city because Sanders and Fagan had been appointed by Mayor Willie Brown, who had run against Hallinan in the last mayoral election and was considered a possible candidate in the next race.

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