SAN FRANCISCO—Michael Robert Lewelling, a San Francisco sheriff deputy who was convicted of criminal assault charges has been sentenced to three years probation and 100 hours of community service as of Wednesday, January 6. Lewelling had been convicted of assault in August 2015 for assaulting a patient at the San Francisco General Hospital on November 3, 2014.
The victim was 59-year-old Fernando Guanill, had fallen asleep in a chair at the hospital’s emergency room from taking a double dose of his pain medication, according to court records. Guanill was waiting at the hospital to have knee surgery from being involved in a car accident that had crushed his leg. A nurse at the medical center requested Lewelling remove Guanill because he had been rude and verbally disruptive to staff, according to prosecutors.
Guanill and Lewelling got into a verbal altercation, but Guanill was compliant upon being asked to leave by Lewelling. As Guanill was using his cane to stand up and leave, Lewelling used excessive force to pull him into the chair. Lewelling then grabbed Guanill’s throat and began choking him before placing him under arrest. According to prosecutors Lewelling arrested Guanill on suspicion of felony and misdemeanor charges.
Lewelling filed a report claiming Guanill had attempted to assault him with his wooden cane. San Francisco General Hospital surveillance showed that Guanill never raised his cane. The case was presented to the district attorney’s office, and Lewelling was arrested on multiple felony charges four months later.
The jury convicted Lewelling of felony assault by a public officer and misdemeanor battery. He was not deemed guilty of filing a false report or assault producing great bodily injury.
District Attorney Spokesman Max Szabo stated: “This was an assault on an unarmed patient with a disability. Due to the vulnerable nature of the victim, and the seriousness of the conduct, we felt that the one year county jail sentence we requested was more than appropriate.”
Guanill also filed a civil rights lawsuit against Lewelling and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, which was filed in October and remains to be determined.