An award-winning San Francisco cop was sentenced to 14 months in prison Tuesday for conducting an illegal search on a hotel room, then falsifying a police report to make it seem as it was a legal search.
Defense attorneys argued that Arshad Razzak, who spent 19 years on the force, was never trained in how not to violate the rights of citizens.
The 44-year-old cop was also not trained in common sense because it was as surveillance video that led to his conviction.
The incident took place on December 23, 2010 after Razzak received a tip from a confidential informant that a man and woman inside room 504 at the Henry Hotel were in possession of a large quantity of heroin.
Razzak and his partner, Richard Yick, then met up with two other officers outside the hotel, Arthur Madrid and Robert Forenis, where they discussed entering the hotel to make their way up to the room.
All four officers were in plainclothes. Madrid had a master key to the room, later claiming he had no idea how he had the key.
The video, posted below, shows the officers using the key to enter the room, where they then arrested occupants Carlos Hutcherson and Jessica Richmond for 65 grams of heroin.
In his report, Razzak claimed that they knocked on the door, which was opened by Richmond, who then gave them consent to search the room. He even pointed out that Richmond signed a consent form admitting she let them in.
But Richmond testified that she was coerced by two uniformed officers into signing the document.
A judge dismissed the drug charges against Richmond and Hutcherson after viewing the video obtained by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi in 2011.
Razzak and Yick were arrested in February 2014 while Madrid was given immunity in exchange for his testimony and Forensis was never charged.
In January 2015, a federal jury found Razzak guilty on four felonies related to Constitutional violations. Yick was found not guilty because he did not search the occupants of the room nor did he falsify any reports.
Part of Razzak’s defense was that he lacked the training in how to make drug arrests without violating a suspect’s Constitutional rights.
According to KQED:
Razzak’s defense attorney, Michael Rains, told the jury that officers were doing their job lawfully, as they understood it. He showed Razzak’s training records and argued the senior officer had very little training on the key issue.
“In the last week,” Rains told the jury, “you have heard more about securing a room pending the issuance of a search warrant and exigent circumstances than these defendants have heard in 16 years.”
He added, “He got no training. They’re throwing this guy into hotel rooms … and he’s doing the best he can.”
But despite his lack of training, his sentencing was delayed for more than a year to allow him to produce a training video to other officers to help them “avoid some of the pitfalls Mr. Razzak found himself in.”
Razzak’s 14-month sentence is less than half of the minimal federal guidelines of 33-months for his offenses. He could have received more than 30 years. In June 2008, he and several other officers were awarded with a “Medal of Honor.” That photo has since been removed from the San Francisco Police Association website.
Razzak is at least the fourth San Francisco cop since last year to be sentenced to prison.