A longtime former San Francisco police sergeant who took part in a violent raid on a 1995 AIDS benefit has retired after being accused of illegally checking someone’s California Department of Motor Vehicle records.
Superior court documents show that in January, John Albert Haggett, 56, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misuse of confidential information. His next court date is October 20 for a pretrial conference.
Sergeant Monica MacDonald said in an email exchange that Haggett retired in February. She declined an interview request, saying, “The police department does not discuss open criminal or employee investigations.”
Haggett was one of several policemen involved in the 1995 New Years Day raid on a benefit at 938 Harrison Street, in the South of Market neighborhood, according to the the San Francisco Chronicle.
In a 2006 story, the paper reported, “Police said they conducted the raid because the party did not have the proper permits. … When partygoers sued, their lawyer, Nanci Clarence said, ‘Haggett was involved in some of the most brutal attacks against the benefit guests, including choking a man from behind until he almost passed out.’”
The story also said Haggett had “joined the department in 1982 and in his first seven years was the subject of 56 citizen complaints.”
According to the Chronicle, in 1996, “the Police Commission found Haggett had committed four offenses that could warrant dismissal — using unnecessary force on one person and falsely arresting three people. … It suspended Haggett for six months and told him he would be fired if he committed further violations during a three-year probationary period.”
Almost a year after the AIDS raid, Haggett “killed an unarmed man,” the paper said.
Reached by phone recently, Haggett would only say that he’s now retired, and handed the phone over to a woman who identified herself as “a babysitter” and hung up the phone.
When a reporter called back, she said, “Nobody wants to talk to you.”
Peter Furst, Haggett’s attorney, didn’t respond to an interview request.
In a January 2014 affidavit attached to the current case against Haggett, San Francisco police Sergeant John McMahon wrote a woman said that in June 2013 she’d filed two police reports “regarding an ongoing landlord tenant dispute,” and that she’d reported the landlord “had threatened her by stating ‘my boyfriend is a police officer and will take care of you.’” According to the victim, Haggett was the landlord’s boyfriend.
The filing includes an email that “appears to be” from the landlord that said if she has to “check someone’s background for criminal records I forward it to John … .”
When the woman told her landlord “that she was not afraid” of Haggett, the landlord “told her that she should be,” according to the document.
McMahon wrote that the victim told him “that she was afraid for her life that Sgt. Haggett might hurt her.” McMahon advised her to get a restraining order. Court records indicating that she took his advice couldn’t be found.
The woman eventually told McMahon “that she did not want to be associated with this case and she does not want to testify in court. She said she is afraid that Sgt. Haggett might assault her. However, it should be noted” that the victim “never met Sgt. Haggett,” according to the filing.
McMahon found that in June 2013, while Haggett was working, someone using his unique police ID had checked California Department of Motor Vehicle, FBI, and local criminal records for information on the victim.
The woman stated that the landlord had “never directly told her that Sgt. Haggett ran a criminal record check on her,” and she’d never given permission to Haggett or the landlord to do a criminal background check, the affidavit says.
McMahon concluced that Haggett had “unlawfully” accessed the first victim’s confidential information in June 2013.
He also found that Haggett had performed illegal records checks on two other people, but he said those cases couldn’t be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations in one case and a lack of evidence that Haggett had “furnished that information to someone else” in the other. The victims’ names had been redacted from the file reviewed by the Bay Area Reporter.