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SFPD sergeant pleads no contest in opioid painkiller robbery

An SFPD vehicle sits in the Mission Police Station in San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

A 57-year-old San Francisco police sergeant has pleaded no contest to felony charges for robbing a Rite Aid pharmacy in San Mateo of painkillers last year, prosecutors said.

Davin Cole entered the plea to two counts of robbery with an enhancement for being armed during the theft on Nov. 3, 2021 at the pharmacy on Concar Drive, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors said Cole walked into the pharmacy and handed an employee a note saying that he had a gun and to give him Norco opioid pills. The employee went to other employees in the pharmacy and one called 911, then they gave him a bag of 11 bottles of Norco and he left the store.

A responding officer saw Cole, who tried to run until the officer warned him he would use his Taser stun gun on him. Cole had a small unregistered handgun in his waistband and police found the Norco bottles and robbery note.

Cole faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 14, and his defense attorney Anthony Brass said that since his arrest, Cole "has devoted all of his energy and attention to his sobriety."

Brass said Cole's addiction to painkillers began a decade ago as a result of a dog bite he suffered while on duty.

"The addiction took hold over years and this case was the unfortunate result," Brass said.

He said part of Cole's job with San Francisco police was helping people with addictions, and said he hopes Cole "might be shown the same compassion that he gave to so many people."

Cole, who remains out of custody on $50,000 bail, started with SFPD in 1994 and was assigned to the department's Field Operations Bureau before being placed on unpaid leave following his arrest.