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WORD: Fajita-gate police chief Earl Sanders pens ‘The Zebra Murders’ for publisher Arcade

by BPM Smith

Former San Francisco Police Chief Earl Sanders, who retired during a firestorm surrounding the so-called Fajita-gate scandal in 2003, has re-emerged as a budding writer after publisher Arcade bought his book The Zebra Murders: A Season of Killing, Racial Madness, and Civil Rights.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Sanders is best known for helming the SFPD when drunken police officer Alex Fagan Jr. allegedly pummeled a bartender over his fajitas. Sanders was indicted along with six other police supervisors during his last year of duty for allegedly conspiring to block an investigation, charges that were later dropped.

Literary agent Jessica Kaye of the entertainment law firm Kaye & Mills in Beverly Hills closed The Zebra Murders deal with Arcade. She said that Sanders’ legacy outstrips the Fajita-gate scandal.

"I don’t agree that Chief Sanders is best known for Fajita-gate, although of course you are correct in that the Fajita-gate controversy was in the headlines during the latter part of his tenure in the department, but Chief Sanders was above that ‘municipal drama’ all along."

Sanders was also The City’s first African American police chief, which may have bolstered publisher interest in his manuscript. The Zebra Murders is an account of the killings that terrorized San Francisco in the mid-1970s, and two African American detectives who solved the crime while suing the SFPD for discrimination.

Kaye said the most important thing about the book is "its illustration of the strength of human beings to do right even when right is not being done to them."

"That was one of the ironies of the case - that while SFPD’s officers of color were working to solve the Zebra Murders, those same officers had been forced to sue their own department for equal treatment under the law."

Kaye said that Sanders will pen The Zebra Murders with co-author Bennett Cohen. Arcade has slated a spring 2006 release.


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