SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney F. Lee Bailey came out shooting Tuesday with all his legal guns aimed at the police officer who arrested him on drunken driving charges two months ago.
Although the Boston attorney failed to get drunken driving charges against him thrown out of court, his attorneys hammered away at the credibility of arresting officer Peter Cannan, calling him 'hostile, abusive and adverse.'
Bailey was arrested Feb. 28 on a charge of drunken driving and running a stop light. He was held several hours in jail and subjected to a strip-search.
Defense attorney Robert Shapiro angrily denounced the police conduct, calling it 'criminal' and asked the court 'to restrain such unwarranted conduct that rises to the level of criminal conduct.'
Prosecutor Lawrence J. Murray said the police officers followed proper procedure used with every drunken driving suspect and questioned whether Bailey should have been treated differently because he is well-known.
With a panel of prospective jurors waiting in the courthouse, Shapiro and Albert Johnson asked Municipal Court Judge Maxine Mackler Chesney to dismiss the case because Bailey was denied his constitutional rights.
Ms. Chesney denied the request but allowed the defense to present a witness who charged he was abused by a belligerent officer during an incident in January 1981. The witness said he was beaten and subdued by Cannan during a routine traffic stop.
Late in the day defense attorney Johnson was stymied in his attempt to introduce evidence of brutality reports filed against Cannan, and Ms. Chesney ruled Bailey could not attack the officer as a defense tactic.
Defense Attorney Robert Shapiro said he would appeal the ruling to the state Court of Appeal but would not seek a stay of the trial while he tried to get an order from the higher court to allow use of statements made against the officer.
Prosecutor Lawrence J. Murray had argued all day that statements made against Cannan were not allowable at the trial because Bailey was on trial and alleged brutality on the part of the officer had nothing to do with the drunken-driving charges.
Bailey contends police violated his rights by not allowing him to post bond from cash he had with him and then get an independent blood alcohol test to prove he was sober.
Jury selection began late Tuesday.
Bailey testified Monday during a pretrial hearing that he had $805 cash with him when he was arrested, but officers refused to let him use it to post a $490 bail bond. He was finally released four hours after the arrest when bail was posted by a bondsman.
Bailey, who has appeared in magazine vodka ads, said the arresting officer may have smelled alcohol on his breath, but he refused to take the police administered test because he was abused during the arrest and police had a stake in proving he was drunk.
He said police 'slapped' a cigarette from his hand when he refused an order to put it out and Bailey said he was shoved by an officer. In his report, Cannan said Bailey was obnoxious, insolent and insulting.
If found guilty, Bailey could be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail and fined $500.