A sheriff’s department cadet who alleges that Supervisor Shamann Walton physically threatened him and called him the N-word filed a lengthy complaint with the city on Tuesday, triggering a formal investigation of what transpired between the two at City Hall, The Standard has learned.
An initial review of the incident by the city’s Department of Human Resources (DHR) found that all parties were satisfied that the “improper conduct has been timely and appropriately addressed.” But the sheriff’s cadet—Emare Butler, a 43-year-old Black man who has worked for the Sheriff’s Department for six years—clearly disagreed.
Butler had 30 days to respond to that decision and on Tuesday filed a 77-page appeal—which included news articles, press releases and social media posts—arguing that DHR Director Carol Isen’s determination was inaccurate and incomplete. Butler wrote that DHR investigators never contacted him or witnesses about the incident, and he also accused Walton and the supervisor’s chief of staff, Natalie Gee, of making offensive and defamatory remarks.
Butler told The Standard an investigation should include one key piece of evidence to prove his side of the story. “I can tell you for certain there is video,” he said.
In an interview Wednesday, Butler said he “specifically let the undersheriff know I was satisfied with what [the Sheriff’s Department] did, but not satisfied with what DHR did.” He said he decided to submit the appeal to the Civil Services Commission after speaking with this publication for an interview and consulting with his family.
“At this point it’s getting bigger than just me and [Walton] and this incident,” Butler said. “This is an opportunity for us cadets to finally have a voice, because I’m not the only one—we’ve had cadets who have been assaulted before, cadets who have been yelled at, and there’s no light being put on that.”
The alleged confrontation occurred on the Friday morning of Pride weekend when Walton, who is also a Black man, encountered a crowd at the security check at City Hall and refused to take off his belt. Walton’s belt has set off the metal detector in the past, Butler said, and while the cadet has let him go through without removing it, a crowd necessitated everyone complying with security protocols. The protocols were put in place as a result of Supervisor Dan White assassinating Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978.
Walton allegedly refused to take off his belt and told Butler, "It’s n—s like you who look like me that’s always the problem, it’s always my own people. This is some n— shit.”
Butler said Walton also threatened to “whoop my ass.”
Walton and Gee declined comment for this story, but the supervisor has issued past statements saying he was repeatedly targeted by Butler and other cadets in the sheriff’s City Hall security detail. Walton also said he believes the allegations against him are retaliation for creating a sheriff’s oversight board after deputies were accused of using excessive force and pitting jail inmates against one another in gladiator-style fights.
Butler’s appeal will start a formal process in which the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity division launches an investigation and prepares a report that could go before the Civil Services Commission, according to DHR officials. Walton is an elected official and can’t be fired by the commission, but the report could lay the ground for a potential civil lawsuit.
No other supervisors have publicly commented on the controversy embroiling the president of the Board of Supervisors, but Mayor London Breed said in an interview Tuesday that Walton’s alleged behavior is highly inappropriate for an elected official.
Michael Barba contributed additional reporting for this story.
Josh Koehn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org