Why the fighting Fagans, father and son, of the San Francisco police, have fallen out

One minute a former police chief from San Francisco and his son were enjoying a smart dinner in the golfing resort of Scottsdale, Arizona.

One minute a former police chief from San Francisco and his son were enjoying a smart dinner in the golfing resort of Scottsdale, Arizona.

The next minute, they were arguing. And started smashing things.

The son, who has also worked as a San Francisco police officer, knocked an exit sign to the ground, punched the hotel manager, half-strangled him, then threatened to throw himself off a fourth-floor balcony, police reports said yesterday.

When he was being subdued by dinner guests and hotel security guards, he kept punching at them, spouted a stream of obscenities and threatened to bite a men pinning him to the ground.

The father was so obstreperous that Scottsdale police had to cuff him. They noticed a "smell of intoxicating beverage" on his breath and a bleeding welt on his forehead.

"Hey, I'm the chief of police, I can tell you what happened," the father told them. "This is just a misunderstanding, really."

The "misunderstanding" has led the son, Alex Fagan junior, to be charged with assault, criminal damage, disorderly conduct and making threats, and the father, Alex Fagan senior, to be face investigation in San Francisco for possible violation of police department rules.

The incident is being viewed with a certain relish in San Francisco, where the Fagans have a reputation for short-fused tempers.

Alex junior was thrown off the San Francisco force after a notorious case two years ago that became known as "Fajitagate". He and two other off-duty officers were accused of picking a late-night fight over a bag of takeaway steak fajitas and assaulting restaurant workers in a shop in one of San Francisco's ritziest neighbourhoods.

The district attorney indicted 10 senior police officials - including Alex senior, then deputy chief, and his boss - for conspiring to cover up the attack. This, in turn, was denounced as serious over-reaching, the case collapsed and the district attorney lost his re-election attempt last November.

Alex senior was demoted, as official reports resurfaced of at least two off-duty incidents involving alcohol.

It was not clear what the Fagans were doing at the Chaparral Suites hotel in Arizona, but Scottsdale police believe that they started becoming abusive with each another after beginning a quarrel about the "Fajitagate" affair.

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