Animal Rights Activist Loses Lawsuit Against San Francisco Police

A San Francisco jury in early May found in favor of San Francisco police in a civil lawsuit brought by attorney and animal rights activist Derek St. Pierre.

The lawsuit stems from a January 16, 2000 rally outside of a Neiman Marcus store. According to the San Francisco Examiner, police were called to the scene after activists used pipes, wire and duct-tape to lock themselves to the front of the store.

Pierre claimed that he was just an observer and not a participant and that police used excessive force in falsely arresting him. According to the Examiner,

Police claimed that St. Pierre attempted to free a protester who had been arrested. Police also accused him of pushing officer Mark Cota and trying to grab his radio. St. Pierre’s resistance prompted Cota to “perform a department-approved hair takedown” on the activist lawyer, according to the police report.

St. Pierre reportedly continued to resist arrest until Cota struck him three times on the shin with his baton. Fourteen protesters were arrested that day.

The Examiner notes that the verdict is a bit of a surprise given that San Francisco juries tend to be far more skeptical of police than juries in other areas. As a spokesman for the San Francisco City Attorney told The Examiner,

It’s the most liberal jury pool in America and they denied this guy his claim. It shows that even in San Francisco, you don’t get a blank check.


Anti-fur activists lose to the fuzz. J. K. Dineen, San Francisco Examiner, May 6, 2004.

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