From: Oakland Tribune
A Berkeley police officer — the third this year to be probed for misconduct — has been charged with a felony for firing several shots into the air to scare off a would-be prowler at his San Francisco home, his attorney confirmed Thursday.
Sean Derry, 29, was charged last month by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office with illegally firing a weapon in an inhabited dwelling.
Derry, who joined the force in June 2004, was at home drinking alcohol on Aug. 12 when he heard someone — possibly a homeless person — trying to get into the front gate of his home, said Derry’s attorney Harry Stern of Rains, Lucia & Wilkinson in Pleasant Hill.
Derry used his department-issued weapon to fire “several shots” into the air, Stern said.
No one was hit or injured, Stern said.
Berkeley police spokesman Ed Galvan on Thursday confirmed that an officer has been on paid administrative leave since Aug. 13, pending the outcome of a criminal case and an internal affairs probe.
Galvan would not confirm the officer’s name or offer any other details.
Derry was arrested at his home, cited and released. A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said Derry is scheduled to be in court for a preliminary hearing Thursday but Stern said that hearing will likely be continued.
This is the third time this year a Berkeley police officer has been accused of a crime and been under investigation by the department’s internal affairs unit. In June, former police sergeant Cary Kent, an 18-year Berkeley police veteran, was sentenced to one year in an electronic home detention program and probation for stealing heroin and methamphetamine from the department’s evidence locker. Another officer is also currently on leave while accusations of theft are investigated.
Stern called Derry “an outstanding member of the department” and said the criminal charge — discharging a firearm in an inhabited dwelling — does not fit the offense.
It is not clear where Derry was standing when he fired his gun. Sources claim he fired from his house out an open window, but Stern declined to specify.
“He heard a prowler trying to enter his property,” Stern said. “Officer Derry wound up firing several shots into the air. The shots weren’t aimed at anyone, didn’t strike anyone or anything, and I am confident that all the facts and circumstances will come to light.”
The news of Derry’s charge comes just a month after police confirmed that another officer, age 30, is under investigation by the department’s internal affairs division and the United States Department of Justice for taking money, evidence, or both, from a detainee and not returning it.
The Oakland Tribune is not naming that officer, who was hired in 2003, because he has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has not filed charges against that officer, but he has been on administrative leave since August pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
Both incidents come in the wake of an internal and criminal probe of former police sergeant Kent, who admitted earlier this year to tampering with 286 evidence envelopes while in charge of the drug evidence locker.
Kent later pleaded guilty to one count each of possessing heroin and methamphetamine and was sentenced to one year in an electronic home detention program and five years probation.
Kent retired in March rather than cooperate with the department’s internal affairs probe. He is currently in a drug treatment program.