"Who's the cop?" I asked.
Pete's voice was tense. "Johnny B."
Oh, crap . "Is he okay?"
"He shot an eighteen-year-old kid during a traffic stop. The kid died."
Not good . "Stuff happens."
"This is bad, Mick."
"Yes, it is."
Giovanni "Johnny" Bacigalupi IV was a rookie cop and fourth-generation SFPD. The youngest of seven siblings, all of his brothers were police officers. His father, Giovanni "Gio" III, was an assistant chief and my high school classmate at St. Ignatius. His grandpa, Giovanni II, used to be the commander at Taraval Station. He was one of my father's best friends.
"Where's Johnny?" I asked.
"Has Gio talked to him?"
"He's the assistant chief."
"Doesn't matter. You remember the chaos during 'Fajitagate.' They aren't going to let Johnny talk to anybody—especially his father—until they get his statement."
True . In 2002, three off-duty police officers had too much to drink and got into a fight outside a bar on Union Street after they demanded a bag of fajitas from two young men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The cops were exonerated of assault and battery charges, but two were held liable in a civil case. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the father of one of the cops was an assistant chief. He and other members of the brass were absolved of obstruction of justice. When the smoke cleared, the three cops lost their jobs, and the big guns looked terrible. SFPD adopted a policy that the chief or an assistant must recuse himself from the investigation if his kid is accused of wrongdoing.
I kept my tone even. "He has to go through the process, Pete."
"This is going to get messy."
Yes, it is . "Who else was there?"
"Three other cops. It gets worse. The victim may have been unarmed."
In which case, this could be a full-blown disaster. "Have they ID'd the victim?"
"SFPD hasn't released a name."
"Did Gio call you?"
"No, Luca did. He couldn't reach you."
Lucantonio "Luca" Bacigalupi was Gio's older brother and Johnny's uncle. He was a "juice" lawyer downtown who used his family's connections on behalf of developers to ram building projects through the City's Byzantine permitting process. He was the only member of the immediate family who wasn't SFPD.
"Why didn't Gio call me?" I asked.
"He's at Northern Station trying to see Johnny."
"What does Luca expect me to do?"
"Line up a lawyer."
"He knows everybody in town."
"He does real estate deals. He wants a criminal defense attorney."
"The POA has people on-call."
"He wants somebody he knows."
"Johnny won't qualify for a public defender. The family has plenty of money."
"Luca wants somebody he trusts."
So would I . "Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We don't know that Johnny did anything wrong."
"In that case, we can call off the fire drill. For now, we have four cops involved in an officer-involved shooting. Gio wants a lawyer for Johnny in case this gets out of hand."
"Is there video?"
"Probably. The world has changed since I was a cop. SFPD still doesn't have dash cams, but every cop wears a body cam. Something might have been caught on a security camera. And there's always a chance that somebody taped it on their iPhone."
"Johnny's lawyer needs to see the videos before somebody puts them up on YouTube."
"Agreed. Pop never had to deal with this."
"He would have quit."
"So would I. Local TV is all over it. CNN and Fox News will pick it up any minute. Twitter is going wild." My streetwise younger brother's tone transformed into a whisper. "There could be riots, Mick."
"Where did you leave it with Luca?"
"I told him that you and I would come over to his office as soon as we could."
"I'll meet you there."
* * *
I was walking down the corridor at the P.D.'s Office when I heard Rosie's voice from behind me. "Going somewhere?"
"I need to see Luca Bacigalupi."
"Does this have anything to do with Johnny B.?"
"Yeah. How did you find out?"
"I'm the Public Defender of the City and County of San Francisco."
"How did you really find out?"
Thought so . "I'll be back this afternoon."
"Johnny won't qualify for a P.D., Mike."
"Why are you going?"
"He's my godson."