SFGate SFGate KENSINGTON Suit filed for arrest involving badge S.F. institutional police officer says her rights violated Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer Thursday, April 12, 2007 A 68-year-old Berkeley woman who works as a San Francisco institutional police sergeant filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against the small East Bay police force in Kensington, saying police violated her civil rights when they saw her badge and arrested her for impersonating an officer. Elsa Seward, who was born in the Netherlands and is a U.S. citizen, said Sgt. Hussain Khan and Officer John Ty automatically assumed she couldn't be a law-enforcement officer because of her age, sex and accent, and humiliated her by taking her to the police station in October to confirm her identity. Khan declined comment Wednesday, as did attorneys for the Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District, which rejected a claim filed by Seward in February. Ty could not be reached. Police reports filed by the Kensington officers say Seward had demanded to be arrested. Seward declined comment. Her attorney, Jim Chanin, said Wednesday, "It's not acceptable to decide if someone's a police officer on the basis of how they look or how old they are. It's clear she did not fit their profile of what a police officer should look like." The suit said Khan and Ty pulled her over for a traffic violation in front of her house on Arlington Avenue shortly before 8 p.m. Oct. 1. Ty, a rookie officer, noticed Seward's badge and "demanded that the plaintiff surrender the badge to him," the suit said. While being detained, Seward said she had to go to the bathroom, but the officers refused, telling her that she was "old enough to hold it," the suit said. Seward was forced to urinate on herself, the suit said. After arresting Seward on suspicion of impersonating a police officer, the officers took her to the police station, where they questioned her about her employment and her national origin, the suit said. Eventually, Khan contacted Seward's employer, confirmed that she was a sergeant and allowed her to leave, the suit said. An institutional police officer since 1990, Seward helps protect property such as the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. Khan and Ty disputed many of Seward's allegations in their police reports. Seward denied running a stop sign, saying "she would not do such a thing because she was a sergeant from San Francisco" and said, "I've had enough of this," when Ty asked for law-enforcement identification after noticing her badge, Ty wrote. Seward told the officers that she wanted to go into her home to get her law-enforcement credentials and to go to the bathroom but "unexpectedly became frantic" and demanded that she be arrested, Ty wrote. Khan said in his police report that he repeatedly told Seward that she didn't need to be arrested as long as she could get proper documentation from her house, but "she refused to cooperate and demanded that we arrest her." Chanin said his client never did such a thing. "Why would anyone ask to be arrested?" he said. At the police station, Seward accused Khan of arresting her because she had an accent and was a woman and "made a few ...unprofessional remarks," Ty wrote. The incident happened five months after Barry Garfield, the district's police chief/general manager, abruptly left a board meeting in May and filed a workers' compensation claim, saying he was harassed by a board member. Garfield went on medical leave and received a $55,000 settlement with the district effective Dec. 1. The eight-member force, which patrols a community of 5,000, is now being headed by interim police chief/general manager Brown Taylor, former police chief in Mountain View and Los Altos.