By Misha Berman
“It’s okay, people cry in court all the time,” said Deputy District Attorney Garrett Hamilton to “Ms. K,” a Walgreens store clerk, who was crying while she was testifying against Defendant Alamar Houston in Department 14 on May 18, 2016.
Ms. K alleges that, on June 30, 2015, while she was working behind the counter at Walgreens, Mr. Houston approached her and asked her if she was from “England” or “New England.” When she said that she was not, he hit her.
“I have never been hit like that, I should have seen it coming. I pushed him back,” said Ms. K.
After she said this, Ms. K began to cry, and that’s when DDA Hamilton said that “people cry in court all the time.” Judge Rosenberg then said that if she needed a moment it was fine. Ms. K then took a few breaths and continued.
Mr. Hamilton asked Ms. K if she remembered what the person who hit her looked like, such as what he was wearing or what his race was. She responded that she didn’t remember. Mr. Hamilton then asked whether the impact of the hit “knocked her out.”
“I fell back behind and reached back and grabbed the phone and called intercom and said call 911,” said Ms. K.
She then said that no one called for an ambulance or any other medical service and Walgreens never made a report that she was hit.
“The cop was there to view the tape but cop didn’t know I was hit,” said Ms. K.
Ms. K then added that she knew the policeman who watched the video didn’t know she was hit because he was surprised when he saw her being hit in the video. Ms. K said that the policeman came to the shop and was watching the video because he was trying to “identify” the person in video.
Ms. K pointed out that the police would show her pictures and try to see if she would remember what the man looked like from the pictures, but she could not remember what he looked like.
According to Ms. K, the suspect stole a can of soda. Mr. Houston’s attorney, a deputy public defender, asked her if Mr. Houston ever asked her for any “property.” Ms. K responded that he just hit her and did not ask her for “property.”
“He put his hands over the counter and he was lifting up to go over the counter, that’s when I saw his fist,” said Ms. K.
Mr. Houston’s attorney then asked Ms. K if Mr. Houston said “England” or “New England” when he asked her where she was from. Ms. K then said that she doesn’t remember if he said “New England” or “England,” but she remembers that he said the word “England.”
Defense counsel then asked her to clarify that after Mr. Houston asked her if she was from “New England” or “England” was when he just hit her. Ms. K agreed that this is what happened.
She then added that after Mr. Houston allegedly hit her, “Ricardo” pushed him out of the store. Ms. K said that Mr. Houston took a can of soda when he was being pushed out of the store.
Officer Louis Cameron, who is a West Sacramento police officer, testified next. Officer Cameron stated that on June 30, 2015, he got called to go the Walgreens located on Jefferson and West Capitol Avenue at 6:30pm because an incident of theft occurred there.
Officer Cameron stated that he watched the surveillance footage at the store the same night the theft occurred. He stated that in the video, “the suspect” went into the store and approached the counter. After he approached the counter he hit the store clerk working there, according to Officer Cameron.
“I can’t recall how she was hit but it didn’t appear that he had a weapon. I remember her being struck and then falling back,” stated Officer Cameron after Mr. Hamilton asked him if he remembers how she was hit and whether the person who hit her had a weapon.
Officer Cameron then pointed out that Ricardo stated that a man went into the Walgreens, walked up to the counter and “punched” Ms. K. Officer Cameron added that Ricardo claimed that, during the time of the assault, he was in the store.
“The store manager saw him take water and exit the store. She did not see the punch,” stated Officer Cameron.
Officer Daniel Gill, another West Sacramento police officer, was called to testify. He stated that he was involved in a car chase on June 30, 2015.
“I had information that there was a blue SUV that was involved in a hit and run. Before the vehicle pursuit I was at the police department where I was radioed by Officer Albert.” Officer Gill
Officer Gill then stated that he saw the suspected SUV, which had some reported damage in the front of it, while he was driving.
“This was 4-5 minutes after Officer Albert made notification about the video. At 6:25 I was not aware that there was a call from Walgreens in that area. The blue SUV was driving northbound on Jefferson,” stated Officer Gill.
Mr. Hamilton then asked about who was in the blue SUV. Officer Gill responded that the driver was either a light skinned black or Hispanic male. Officer Gill then pointed out that the hood of the car and the windshield had damages on it.
“He made a u turn back south on Jefferson before he reached the area where the police department was. This is when I started the sirens,” said Officer Gill.
Officer Gill stated that the car chase continued until Mr. Houston approached an alleyway. Officer Gill stated that this was when Mr. Houston got out of his car and kept running.
Mr. Hamilton asked Officer Gill if he worked with police dogs. Officer Gill responded that he does. Mr. Hamilton then asked if he had a police dog with him on June 30, 2015. Officer Gill responded that he did. Mr. Hamilton asked for the police dog’s name and Officer Gill said the police dog’s name is Diesel.
Officer Gill stated that both he and Diesel chased Mr. Houston in the alleyway. Officer Gill then stated that Diesel grabbed Houston’s leg and Houston put Diesel in a “headlock” so Diesel would not bite him. Officer Gill then said that Diesel let go of the Mr. Houston’s leg.
“I provided distraction strikes to let Diesel go. After that I ordered Diesel to bite him and he bit him on the back of the head. I then arrested him,” said Officer Gill.
Officer Gill then stated that Mr. Houston was taken to the Sutter Medical Center to be treated for the dog bite. Officer Gill then described the SUV such as the model, if it was old or new, and if it was big or small.
“I don’t recall taking pictures of the SUV,” stated Officer Gill.
Judge Rosenberg then called for a break until 3:00pm. At 3:10pm, Officer Gill resumed his testimony. Mr. Houston’s attorney now had the floor. The attorney asked Officer Gill if he commanded Diesel to bite Mr. Houston’s head.
Officer Gill responded that he commanded Diesel to bite Mr. Houston, but did not specify to bite him in the head.
“Ms. B,” a nurse at the Yolo County Jail, was the next witness to be called to testify by Mr. Hamilton. Ms. Bi started out by describing her job at the Yolo County Jail. Ms. B stated that the people in the jail go to her if there are any medical issues or if they are on any medication, where they are evaluated.
Mr. Hamilton asked Ms. B if she would recognize Houston if she saw him. Ms. B said that because Mr. Houston was on the news she would recognize him.
Ms. B then talked about the form she filled out for Mr. Houston. She stated she filled out his intake form on July 1, 2015, at 2:11am. She stated that there was a senior nurse and other officers because Houston was behaving in a way that suggested that he was being violent.
She stated that she asked him if he was allergic to any medication. According to her, Mr. Houston responded he was allergic to Motrin.
“I asked if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He said he smokes meth and I asked how frequently do you smoke meth? He said ‘every second.’ And then I asked him how much and when was the last time he smoked. He said an ounce and he smoked yesterday,” stated Ms. B.
Ms. B then stated that she asked Mr. Houston if he has any medical conditions. She stated that Houston responded that he had a dog bite and he was in a car accident.
“I asked him if he was under the influence. He said yes, and that he was on meth,” said Ms. B.
Mr. Houston’s attorney got up and asked Ms. B to confirm she is a registered nurse and not a toxicologist. Ms. B confirmed this.
“I am not trained in the central nervous system,” said Ms. B.
Mr. Houston’s attorney asked if she only got the idea that Houston was under the influence from what he said. Ms. B confirmed this. Ms. B then stated that Mr. Houston was treated at Sutter for his dog bite before she saw him and that none of them reported him being on meth – only Mr. Houston stated he was on meth.
Mr. Hamilton then called up Officer Cody Coulter, another police officer from the West Sacramento Police Department, to testify.
“I got involved with the arrest of Houston. Officer Gill reported a running vehicle so I went to catch up – by then Houston was on the ground. I helped handcuff him,” stated Officer Coulter.
Officer Coulter then testified that he and Officer Gill drove him to hospital “to make sure he was okay.” Officer Coulter then said that Mr. Houston told him that he ran over five people and that they ran from him. Officer Coulter said that Mr. Houston told him after he said that he ran over five people that he was called a “Willow’s Officer.”
“He called me Officer McCormick and said that Officer should get IRS papers and that he hasn’t slept in 4 days. He was making rambling statements and continuously talking, sweating profusely and saying he was in pain,” said Officer Coulter.
The last witness for the day was Officer Guillermo Hernandez, a highway patrol officer. Another prosecutor asked him if he asks anyone who gets a DUI whether they a danger to themselves or others. Officer Hernandez said yes, and that Mr. Houston said he didn’t have such a desire. The other prosecutor then asked how he sounded when he said that. Officer Hernandez responded that he sounded apathetic.
Mr. Houston’s attorney asked Officer Hernandez if he has had past encounters with Mr. Houston. Officer Hernandez said no.
Judge Rosenberg then said that this preliminary hearing will resume at 1:30pm May 19, 2016.