SDPD Officer Accused Of Slashing Homeless Couple's Tent

Malia Mason Said SDPD Officer Slashed Her Tent In East Village

A San Diego police officer is accused of going rogue and using the homeless as the target for his anger.

A tent flap with a 4-inch rip is a reminder of a morning that Malia Mason said she wants to forget. Almost two weeks ago, after an evening of drizzle, someone began kicking at her tent after 6 a.m. while she and her husband slept inside.

Teresa Gonzalez, who is also homeless, said she saw what happened next.

"He was cursing a kicking and then he took out that knife," said Gonzalez.

She said a uniformed San Diego police officer in his 40s took out a pocketknife with a 6-inch blade. Gonzalez said the man cut the cords securing the rain flaps before moving onto the tent.

"I was getting out... and he was slicing," said Mason. "I looked up and saw the knife a few inches from my face."

Mason said the officer, who was with his partner, was enraged at seeing tents on the sidewalk.

"This whole time, he's cussing and yelling at everybody here," said Mason. When she challenged his actions, Mason said she received this response: "He said, 'Sometimes you have to break the law to keep the law.'"

During a 10-day time period, homeless advocates reported the same officers were involved with five similar incidents in the East Village.

"I've never had anything like this happen before," said homeless advocate David Ross.

Ross said the words of the officers revealed their agenda.

"In the first incident, they said, 'We're going to run you people out of here,'" he said.

SDPD Capt. Mark Jones has promised a full investigation.

"We are taking this very seriously," said Jones, who also said that although putting put the tents is illegal, most officers will not enforce the law when it's raining.

When asked if it was common practice for officers to slash tents, Jones replied, "No, of course not."

The officers accused remain on active duty as the investigation, which is expected to take several weeks, is conducted. Meanwhile, Mason said she sleeps in fear.

"I'm scared, and the sad thing is, I shouldn't be scared of a police officer," said Mason. "They're here to protect and serve, not to scare us."

Sources told 10News the officer accused of slashing the tents has been on the force for more than four years.