SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco man has been sentenced to the maximum term for a hit-and-run that left a San Francisco police officer severely brain damaged, San Francisco district attorney George Gascón announced Tuesday.
The sentence was given Wednesday afternoon. 51-year-old Willie Flanigan will serve 12 years and 8 months after being found guilty on July 11 of the following charges: assault with a deadly weapon, hit-and-run, evading and resisting an officer, fleeing the scene of an accident, receiving stolen property and being an unlicensed driver. Flanigan, who also went by the name Maurquise Johnson, struck bicycle officer Elia Lewin-Tankel, 32, around 12:20 p.m. Oct. 18, 2017 on Turk Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.
An SFPD officer responded to the 400 block of Ellis Street after being notified of a potentially stolen vehicle, which Flanigan was driving. According to court documents, Flanigan fled the scene by driving the wrong way down a one-way street, through a construction zone and cutting across multiple lanes of traffic. Johnson was fleeing from officers who were trying to investigate him for a possible firearm investigation.
Flanigan sped into a parking garage near Golden Gate Avenue. As he exited, he struck Lewin-Tankel, a bicycle officer. Though he was able to flee the scene after striking Lewin-Tankel, officers located him later that day and apprehended him.
Lewin-Tankel sustained permanent brain damage from the hit-and-run and remains in medical care facility.
“This man’s recklessness took a significant toll on an officer and his family,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “But the victim’s family and the entire SFPD came together to rally around Officer Lewin-Tankel in support of his recovery. We wish Officer Lewin-Tankel a full recovery, and our victim services division will continue to provide assistance throughout that process.”
“Elia is a loved and respected member of our station who has set an example for all through his engagement with Tenderloin residents,” said Tenderloin District Station Captain Carl Fabbri. “The verdict and sentencing in this case reflect the level of community support for our officers who are committed to protecting our neighborhoods despite the risks they face every day.”
Officer Lewin-Tankel has been recognized numerous times by the department for his “exemplary police work” and was known for his dedication to serving the Tenderloin. He received a Purple Heart Award in 2015 for an incident in which he was injured as a direct result of actions he took to protect members of the community.