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Chronicle Staff Writer
Jaxon Van Derbeken
The city of San Francisco has reached a tentative $60,000 settlement of a lawsuit filed by a man who said a police officer gouged his face with a piece of jagged glass in 2002.

Raymund Nario, 35, sued the city and Officer Reynaldo C. Vargas, 36, a five-year veteran of the department, saying the officer had handcuffed him and then slashed him in a patrol car Oct. 20, 2002.

Sources with knowledge of the agreement confirmed the settlement figure, which must still be approved by the Police Commission and Board of Supervisors. City attorney's spokeswoman Alexis Truchan said her office could not comment until the settlement was official.

Nario's attorney, Russell Robinson, also declined to comment on the case, saying he would be free to discuss the matter after the agreement went before the supervisors.

The incident began at Powell and O'Farrell streets when a cable car conductor flagged down Vargas and told him Nario hadn't paid his fare.

Vargas handcuffed Nario after a brief struggle. A crack pipe was found in the street, which the conductor suggested might have fallen out of Nario's pocket, according to an investigation by the independent Office of Citizen Complaints.

Nario was taken to nearby Union Square to be searched, where other officers said he appeared to be unharmed, the investigation found.

Vargas then took Nario to the Financial District, telling investigators he did so to keep Nario from boarding another cable car.

At Bush and Sansome streets, Vargas allegedly turned to Nario in his squad car and jabbed shards from the broken pipe at him, shouting, "Eat it! Eat it!" according to the Office of Citizen Complaints investigation.

"When the victim, who was still handcuffed and seated, attempted to turn away from the officer, the officer cut his face several times with the glass," the investigation concluded.

Vargas then released Nario, who walked into a Powell Street pizza parlor, bleeding. A store clerk called his mother, and Nario was treated at San Francisco General Hospital for three cuts that required suturing.

The officer denied he had gouged Nario's face, but investigators found blood that matched Nario's DNA on the door of Vargas' patrol car.

Vargas told investigators that he had given the crack pipe to Nario rather than seizing it, and had watched as Nario complied with an order to smash it.

In March, the Police Commission suspended Vargas for six months after he admitted the truth of the allegations in a plea agreement. He was also placed on probation for three years and could be fired if he breaks any other department rules in that period.

The commission voted 6-1 in favor of the deal, with panel president Louise Renne dissenting.

At one point during the meeting, commissioner Gayle Orr-Smith wished Vargas good luck. Renne added, "Good luck to the public."

E-mail Jaxon Van Derbeken at [email protected].
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