15 August – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The Justice Department announced that Peter Taoy, formerly an officer of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) in San Francisco, was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison for conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Mr. Jeffrey Petri and for making false statements in connection with the arrest of Mr. Petri on February 15, 2003.
Taoy, 50, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Marilyn Patel, who also ordered the defendant to spend three years on supervised release once he completes his prison term.
Taoy, along with a fellow former officer John Haire, admitted that in the early morning hours of February 15, 2003, they observed Mr. Petri’s Mercedes-Benz automobile run a red light approximately two blocks away from federal property. After a high-speed pursuit through the streets of San Francisco, Petri’s vehicle came to a stop. As Petri again attempted to flee from the officers in his vehicle, Taoy fired four shots from his service revolver at the vehicle’s left-front tire to prevent Petri from escaping. Petri was then apprehended and taken into custody.
Following the arrest, Taoy and Haire falsely described the pursuit and shooting, describing the shots fired as an act of self-defense that occurred only after Petri tried to run Taoy over with the vehicle. They also falsely described the pursuit as having begun adjacent to federal property, rather than several blocks away. Taoy and Haire repeated these false statements to federal investigators and to an Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the matter.
As a result, Mr. Petri was wrongfully charged with a federal crime, namely assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon. Based on these charges, Mr. Petri spent six days in jail. Mr. Petri was released after federal prosecutors in San Francisco realized the evidence did not support the charges.
Taoy admitted that he conspired to make false statements and to recklessly disregard the truth about the incident. This illegal conduct resulted in the willful deprivation of Mr. Petri’s civil rights, that is, the right to be free from an unreasonable seizure by one acting under color of law. Taoy also admitted to making material false statements to a federal prosecutor in connection with the incident. Haire admitted that he made false statements and recklessly disregarded the truth about the incident, resulting in the violation of Mr. Petri’s civil rights.
Haire, 43, who also pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Mr. Petri, was previously sentenced to six months of probation and three years supervised release.
A third person involved in this case, Charles Jackson, an FPS criminal investigator assigned to investigate the Petri shooting, was found guilty by a federal jury in San Francisco on May 26, 2005, of falsifying documents in connection with an attempted coverup of the incident. Jackson, 48, is scheduled to be sentenced on September 12 by Judge Patel.
This case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Jerrob Duffy from the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice and David Vaughn from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.