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The Man Behind Saturday’s Armed Stand-Off at Civic Center Plaza

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The man who eventually surrendered to the SFPD after a six-hour stand off in Civic Center Plaza is a former lawyer who was disbarred last year.

Patrick Missud, 48, is being held in a San Francisco jail without bail, after he called the police on himself to say that he was a “famous civil rights lawyer” and that he was “brandishing a semi-automatic weapon,” according to Police spokesman Carlos Manfredi.

That weapon turned out to be an airsoft gun, but it looked realistic enough that police thought the gun was real throughout the stand off.

“He called it in,” said Manfredi. “He requested that SFPD just shoot him in plain view in front of people and video and get it over with.”

cops at civic 2

Three years after being admitted to the state bar in 2002, Missud began a legal assault on the company that had sold him a home in Nevada in 2004. Between 2005 and 2011, Missud filed more than a half-dozen lawsuits and claimed that there was a conspiracy involving state and federal judges working in concert to deny him justice, according to a report by the California Bar Journal.

During the course of this litigation, a federal judge declared Missud a “vexatious litigant,” and this ruling eventually made its way to the state bar who recommended that he be disbarred. In 2013 Missud became ineligible to practice law in California. Although Missud attempted to appeal this decision all the way to the US Supreme Court, he was unable to secure a hearing before the country’s highest court when five Supreme Court Justices were recused from his case because he had named them as parties in his suit.

On April, 17, 2015 Missud was formally disbarred from practicing law. Since then he has maintained a website identifying his business as the Law Office of Qui-Tam Patrick Missud at the domain Qui-Tam is a legal term that allows people under the False Claims Act to receive money by assisting in a prosecution; however, based on his web site it’s not entirely clear the context in which Missud is using the term.


Missud v. San Francisco Superior Court

Missud v. San Francisco Superior Court

I probably wouldn’t have learned about Missud’s plight if a man hadn’t stopped me on Saturday afternoon as I was about to enter the main branch of the public library to see a play. While all of Civic Center plaza had been cordoned off, people were still allowed to enter the library through as side entrance. The man pointed out that there were no news helicopters flying overheard and said that if the police shoot him no one will be able to know what really happened.

His concerns seemed valid. In the 25 years since the Rodney King beating was televised to the world, the increasing accessibility of video cameras and now cell phones has brought tremendous attention to the ongoing brutality and killings perpetuated by the police.

Windows at the public library at Civic Center had been taped off

Windows at the public library at Civic Center had been taped off to prevent the public from viewing the stand-off

Inside the library I discovered that yellow caution tape had been strung up to keep people away from being able to look out the windows facing Civic Center Plaza. I later walked the police perimeter and quickly noticed that no news media was being permitted access to witness the ongoing stand-off.

Manfredi told me that as one of the SFPD crisis negotiators, he personally made the decision to ask the news helicopters to leave the area. He said he explained that he was concerned that if Missud believed he was being filmed that he might go through with committing suicide. The helicopters were receptive to Manfredi’s appeal, but he said that he would have banned them from the scene had they refused.

“At the end of the day, I look at what’s more valuable,” said Manfredi. “That person’s life outweighed the news copters.”

Of course, it’s easy to agree with the SFPD’s decision in this case; Missud surrendered peacefully and no one was hurt or killed during the stand-off. Saturday was a victory, but what about if things hadn’t ended so fortunately?

Manfredi said that even had the situation resulted in a different outcome, he still would have made the right call. While the new helicopters wouldn’t have been present, there are still numerous security cameras in the area and there were officers on the scene wearing body cameras, he said.

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Josh Wolf

Josh Wolf

Josh Wolf is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker who teaches in the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University. He is also the founder of Breaking Bread, a web site that creates friends out of strangers by sharing a meal.