The San Francisco Police Commission on Wednesday revoked the appointment of a patrol special officer who is a key witness in a 2010 murder case because he is facing disciplinary charges.
Robert Burns, 66, was a patrol special officer appointed by the commission to patrol an area of the city just south of Fisherman’s Wharf.
Patrol special officers are authorized under the city charter to provide supplementary police patrols and are contracted to perform private security for businesses and individuals in their appointed areas.
Burns was accused of failing to comply with Police Department requirements related to the patrol special officers’ uniforms, insurance and training in 2009 and 2010.
The Police Commission, which has jurisdiction over patrol special police, sustained the allegations and voted unanimously at its meeting Wednesday night to revoke his appointment.
Burns had been contracted to provide security for Club Suede, a nightclub that was the site of a fatal shooting on Feb. 7, 2010. The club has since been ordered permanently closed by a judge.
That night, 19-year-old Lawon Marshawn Hall was killed and three others were injured in a shooting outside the club. Burns witnessed the shooting and shot one of the two suspects, later identified as Keandre Davis.
Davis, 21, of Richmond, was arrested at the scene after being shot and faces murder charges in the case. A man suspected of being the second shooter was arrested in the days after the shooting, but the district attorney’s office declined to file charges against him.
Burns, who was recommended for the Police Department’s Medal of Valor for his role in apprehending Davis, testified in the preliminary hearing for the murder case last week.
During the hearing, Burns testified he was wearing the uniform required of a patrol special officer that night.
But according to the charges the Police Commission considered, he was noted as not complying with the proper uniform requirements at least 37 times in 2009 and 2010, including on Feb. 3, 2010, four days before the shooting.
The charging document states that on many occasions, Burns’ uniform did not have the proper markings, including stripes on the trousers and shoulder epaulettes.
According to the charges, Burns told police that day that he thought the uniform standards should remain as they were when he was sworn in, and at an administrative interview about the issue two weeks later, he said he would not comply with the uniform requirements until he got legal clarification on what he was required to wear.
Burns was also accused of not providing general liability and automobile insurance to the Police Department in January 2010, and failing to appear at mandatory first aid/CPR classes in June and July 2010.
At his disciplinary hearing before the Police Commission on Wednesday, Burns said the case was a violation of his constitutional rights, and said he was still seeking clarity on whether he was a private or public citizen.
“I’m either a city employee or public citizen, you can’t have it both ways,” he said.
The accusations against Burns did not mention his involvement in the shooting, but he brought it up as a sign of his good service at the hearing.
“There’s never been a complaint in my 22 years (of service) as being a danger to the public,” he said.
But the commissioners ended up voting to uphold the charges against him and revoke his appointment.
Commissioner Carol Kingsley said the charges showed “a philosophical reluctance to abide by the procedures and regulations and rules set by the commission.”
It is unclear whether the charges against Burns will affect his role as a witness in the 2010 murder case.
Prosecutors and defense attorney Steve Olmo, who represents Davis, declined to comment because the case is ongoing.
Following Burns’ testimony last week, Davis’ preliminary hearing was continued until this Friday, when it is expected to finish.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News
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