Home / Badge Abuse / Bully Cop Arrests Public Defender for Trying to Protect Her Client’s Constitutional Rights

Bully Cop Arrests Public Defender for Trying to Protect Her Client’s Constitutional Rights

“If police are able to do this to a deputy public defender in front of her client, I can only imagine what is happening out on the streets.”

San Francisco, Calif. – In a blatant attempt at intimidation, police handcuffed and arrested a San Francisco deputy public defender, Jami Tillotson, at the Hall of Justice for attempting to protect her client’s constitutional rights on Tuesday.

The arrest was in response to her denial of officer’s attempts to photograph her client, and it raises serious questions about police intimidation, according to Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

Tillotson was arrested and booked Tuesday on a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge.

“This is not Guantanamo Bay. You have an absolute right to have a lawyer with you when you’re questioned. Ms. Tillotson was simply doing her job,” said Adachi

One of Tillotson’s clients had just appeared on a misdemeanor theft charge. As he was leaving the courtroom, plainclothes officers began to question him, according to authorities.

Tillotson heard about her client being questioned in the hallway without her being present and attempted to interject herself into the police questioning as an attorney representing a client.

“I asked questions. I talked to my client and explained to him his rights. At that point, I was told I was interfering and taken into custody,” said Tillotson.

Police claim their officers were investigating a case, in which Tillotson’s client was a person of interest, and believe that they acted lawfully.

An attorney with the public defender’s office took video of the incident, according to sfgate.com.

In that video a plainclothes officer, identified as Sgt. Brian Stansbury, can be seen telling Tillotson, “I just want to take some pictures, OK, and he’ll be free to go.”

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When she summarily denied the officer’s request, Stansbury had the audacity to tell her,

“If you continue to do this, I will arrest you for resisting arrest,” to which Tillotson responsed, “Please do.”

“It was very clear to me that I hadn’t been doing anything illegal,” she said Wednesday at a news conference, adding, “I was challenging him, telling him that you know that I know that I did not violate the law. He moved it forward.”

The Public Defender’s Office also highlighted the fact  that the arresting officer, Sgt. Stansbury, was the subject of a 2013 federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a black SFPD officer alleging racial profiling.

This video adds to the claims that we no longer have the rule of law, but the rule of law enforcement instead.

“A uniform does not give anyone license to bully people out of their constitutional rights,” said Adachi.

To see an attorney be threatened with resisting arrest when she was clearly not under arrest, nor resisting in any way imaginable, and in fact was extremely calm and measured, shows exactly how far the police are willing to go to intimidate and bully people into submission.

“If police are able to do this to a deputy public defender in front of her client, I can only imagine what is happening out on the streets,” added Adachi.

Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.

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  • Sunshine1011

    And, did anything ever happen with this?

    • Dan MacRae

      As of March, the federal lawsuit against San Francisco police she filed in September 2015 is still pending. She also lodged a complaint with the Office of Citizen Complaints, which investigates complaints against officers in the city.

      • ricbee

        That’s also called”Office of the Coverup”.

      • Bruce Baker


  • Treasured Lights

    Where’s the update? What happened to the cops involved in this matter.

  • Butch Taylor

    To the investigative journalist Jay Syrmopoulos who wrote and posted this article in 01/15, is clear to you and your journalist colleagues now in 08/16 that America no longer has a Justice system?

  • Lunarsickness


  • Paul Wirtz

    I’m still trying to figure out how you can be arrested only for resting arrest. their should be whatever charge your are resisting arrest on. But since they know that any sort of interference charge would be invalid they just skipped that part?

    • understand562

      Obviously you didnt even read the first paragraph or you wouldnt have made this statement good day sir….

  • gordon_wagner

    What’s the follow-up?

  • Alan Williams

    It’s impossible to resist an arrest that isn’t happening. This was posted back in January of 2015. I’d like The Free Thought Project to follow up on this if possible and post an update.

  • Jones69

    Fire the cop.

  • David Marchetti

    Hello! she herself stated he is NOT represented by them, she has no legal standing, but he could refuse…she stuck her nose into where it did not belong legally speaking…

  • David Marchetti

    Slap on the breaks! this is misleading at the very best, this is not about opinion or emotions, period. This is about the law, instead of posting misleading things, hating cops, or giving your opinion on something you know nothing about, try educating yourselves for a change. ( a ) It appears that the suspects were not in police custody. ( b ) Based on police actions it appears they are in the process of investigating something, and they want pictures of viable or potential suspects. If they are not under arrest and are detained in anyway by police it would be a false arrest. The suspects do have a right to cover their faces legally as they are not being detained, and they may object, or walk away. ( c ) The lawyer clearly indicates that one of the men is NOT represented by them, thus legally she has no legal standing to act on his behalf which she did. That’s what got her in trouble, does not matter if she’s an attorney, she has no legal standing to act of his behalf, especially while police are investigating another crime. When dealing with police, they may make an investigatory stop, which is legal as a detention requiring probable cause or it’s an illegal arrest. In this case they must have had that cause, cause to obtain pictures for a line up usually associated with rape or a violent crime where a victim can not come in to do a line up. 1. Am I being detained? 2. Am I under arrest? 3. I have nothing to say other than I want legal representation. As to the blocking or obstruction of your face with your hand or dropping your head if you are detained, not sure about the legalities of that. It could be interfering of an investigation…depends on how state laws are written in that state….based on this her arrest was legally valid…

    • pianki

      Cops are as dumb as a box of hammers. People should get on their local city government and set policy of what a employee is allowed to do and if they break policy terminate them and confiscate their pay and pension benefits.

      “Two years ago, a Pennsylvania man was thrown in jail for 160 days for refusing to allow police to take his picture.
      A federal judge last week, however, ruled against local police and in favor of Gregory Bush, who was not charged with any crime on May 17, 2007, when a Lancaster, Pa., officer demanded to take the man’s photo. Only after refusing to have his picture taken did the police subdue him, charge him with obstruction of justice and toss him in jail.”

      • David Marchetti

        Well good now he has actual case law / common law on his side, the key issue here is the law was not representing both of them so she had no legal standing to interfere on behalf of one of them. So as for her protecting her actual client and her arrest it’s now defendable, but the issue will arise that she interfered on the other persons behalf. What she should have done was grab her client by the arm and leave, is stopped then ask if we are under arrest? Pianki police are not stupid they are grossly under trained and can not keep up with the laws including common law rulings the basis of our legal system. Today, pretty much you have to be an attorney to be in public safety I joke…

  • Bruce Baker

    TIME IS RIPE FOR REVOLUTION UNLESS YOU WANT ALL YOUR RIGHTS TAKEN AWAY SLOWLY SO YOU DON’T REALIZE IT ANYMORE. WE NEED TO TAKE BACK OUR RIGHTS NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!