San Francisco is about to pay nearly $2 million to settle claims that two officers with histories of misconduct lied to justify shooting a man during an exchange of gunfire in the Outer Sunset.
The settlement, which is awaiting approval from the Board of Supervisors, isn’t the first big payout spurred by troubled former San Francisco police officer Paulo Morgado.
Morgado cost taxpayers $50,000 in 2010 when the city settled a lawsuit alleging he shoved a Black Army veteran, called him “boy” and misrepresented the encounter in a police report.
After he was fired over the incident, Morgado won a lawsuit that forced San Francisco to temporarily rehire him and pay him more than $500,000 in lost income over a procedural issue with his termination.
Morgado’s lawsuit also required San Francisco to overhaul the way it holds officers accountable—changes that led to the rehiring of at least one other officer who lost his job for sending a racist text.
The latest payout stems from a shooting one night in 2007 when Morgado and his partner, Dennis Cravalho, responded to a 911 call reporting a stolen bicycle near Ocean Beach.
One of the suspects, Francisco Valle, allegedly opened fire on Morgado’s patrol car after the officer spotted him riding a bicycle. Police say Cravalho reacted by trading shots with Valle, and that no one was struck by gunfire.
But Valle tells a wildly different story in the lawsuit closing in on a $2 million settlement.
Valle says he didn’t shoot at all, and that Morgado—not Cravalho—opened fire. He says Morgado shot his hand “without any warning or provocation” after he surrendered.
“Knowing that they had engaged in what was essentially criminal misconduct, Morgado and Cravalho decided to concoct a story in order to cover up their misconduct and to frame [Valle] for attempted murder,” the lawsuit alleges.
Valle was convicted of trying to murder the officers and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in state prison. He spent 13 years behind bars.
But an appeals court overturned his conviction in 2017, finding that prosecutors failed to tell his defense attorneys that Morgado and Cravalho “had histories of failing to control their tempers.”
Details about Cravalho’s history are unclear because the relevant records are under seal. But the appeals court said the alleged misconduct “pretty much covers the rainbow."
“It includes adjudicated criminality as well as actions that could be viewed as criminal,” the ruling says. “Recurring themes are Cravalho’s belligerence and his tendency to evade accountability by emphasizing his status as a police officer.”
In 2020, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against Valle, court records show.
Reached by phone, Morgado said he did not shoot at Valle and accused Valle of trying to “assassinate” him.
“I could have been dead that day, and they are letting this guy out who tried to kill two cops,” Morgado told The Standard.
Morgado also defended his reputation and said he did not call a Black man a “boy” as alleged in the case that settled for $50,000.
“Any working cop is going to get complaints because criminals don’t like when they get arrested,” Morgado said. “Just because a cop gets a complaint, that doesn't mean anything.”
He did not mince words when it came to his distaste for San Francisco and his former department, which he accused of going after good cops.
“I hope that city burns to the ground,” said Morgado, who now works in the mortgage industry.
Morgado said he spent time answering phones at the Department Operations Center after SFPD rehired him.
The unit—the department’s rubber room—is staffed by troubled officers who earn top dollar for mostly clerical work so police brass can keep them off the street, The Standard recently reported in a series.
Records show Morgado earned nearly $850,000 in total compensation and lost income in 2018 and 2019 after SFPD rehired him.
He was released again in August 2019.
Attempts to reach Cravalho for comment were not successful.
He appears to have last earned a full salary from SFPD in 2013, according to the website Transparent California.
Valle’s attorney declined to comment on the case.
A spokesperson for the City’s Attorney’s Office, which is representing the officers in court, called the settlement an “appropriate resolution” given the potential costs and risks of going to court over a shooting from 2007.
Michael Barba can be reached at [email protected]