investigative

San Francisco Police Officers Charged with Destroying Evidence

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Two San Francisco police officers surrendered Tuesday to face charges of destroying evidence, while a retired officer who had been working part-time with the gun destruction unit at the SFPD evidence room, faces unrelated felony charges of taking a soon-to-be-destroyed MP5 submachine gun and silencer home from the property room, authorities said.

Officer Kevin Lyons, a 21-year-veteran, and Kevin Sien, a 5-year veteran, are charged in connection with an incident on July 2 of last year involving the destruction of evidence at the Marriott Marquis hotel in the 700 block of Mission Street.

Hotel workers reported they were looking for missing hotel property in the luggage of a guest who had been locked out because he failed to pay, prosecutors say. The workers found credit cards, IDs and suspected methamphetamine. But after arriving to book the evidence, the two officers allegedly told hotel workers that the process would take too long. Prosecutors say the officers put the credit cards and IDs in a bin to be shredded and Lyons flushed the drugs down a toilet.

Lyons was cited and released on two misdemeanor charges of evidence destruction Tuesday as was Sien, who faces one evidence destruction charge.

Lyons’ attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Sien’s attorney, Christopher Shea, said the conduct as alleged may have been “less than perfect police work, but it wasn’t criminal – there’s a huge difference.”

A retired officer, Mark Williams, separately surrendered Tuesday and was booked on felony charges of illegally possessing a machine gun and silencer as well as embezzlement. Williams had been working part-time at the property room. Boudin said the department was in the process of preparing 22 MP5 weapons to be destroyed when an inventory showed one weapon was missing. Four days later, according to court records, Williams notified the lieutenant in charge of property that he had the missing weapon at his home in Napa.  

All three of the officers are slated to be arraigned May 19.

“San Francisco residents trust the police to conduct the investigative work so my office can bring cases that keep the city safe,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin in a statement.

“These officers undermined their own colleagues, my office, and our criminal justice system as a whole by destroying and concealing the evidence of a crime, simply because they didn’t want to take the time to do their jobs.”

Tony Brass, Williams’ attorney, said his client retired in 2017 and served with distinction with the department. “The firearm was not capable of operation and is essentially an obsolete weapons system but was used by San Francisco police and firearms instructors for a long time,” he said.

Brass said the weapon was seized years earlier during an operation at the San Francisco airport – and was inoperable. Brass said his client took the weapon home and put it in his safe at the time the inventory showed it was missing.

“There is absolutely nothing to suggest that he was intending to keep it,” Brass said. “The gun is registered and listed in the property room. He took it out of the property room to familiarize himself with the system.”

“The actions of these SFPD members violate the law and regrettably fall far short of our department’s shared values,” Police Chief William Scott said in a statement. “As sworn police officers, we have no higher obligation than to earn and maintain public trust, and we are disappointed that these incidents detract from the outstanding work done by our officers and non-sworn members every day. At the same time, we are grateful to our Internal Affairs Division and its members for the thorough investigations they conducted and the cases they presented to the special prosecution division of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Their diligence affirms our department’s commitment to accountability and the principle that no one — including a current or retired police officer — is above the law.”

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