By Ryan Gonzales
Judge David Reed presided over the preliminary hearing of Johnathon Xavier Lopez. Pursuant to Penal Code section 211 and Health & Safety Code section 11350(a), Mr. Lopez is charged with robbery from a local Woodland Walmart store and possession of a controlled substance.
The People called Anthony Servin to the witness stand. Mr. Servin had been working as the Loss Prevention Officer, who confronted Mr. Lopez during the September 8, 2016, incident.
“I investigate suspicious activities on the floor,” testified Mr. Servin, when asked to describe his duties as a Loss Prevention Officer. Although Mr. Servin became suspicious of Mr. Lopez when he had noticed him carrying a duffel bag in a shopping cart, he also testified that Mr. Lopez had been suspected of theft prior to this incident, thus Servin exercised presumptive caution.
When the prosecution inquired if Mr. Servin saw Mr. Lopez take anything, he testified that Mr. Lopez took a bike helmet, bike lock and pliers, and placed them in the duffel bag. Furthermore, Mr. Servin explained that, after taking these items, Mr. Lopez continued shopping for food.
After Mr. Lopez had concluded his shopping, he went to a cashier to purchase the food. Although Mr. Lopez had paid for all the food, Mr. Servin explained that once Mr. Lopez passed all “points of sale,” he then confronted Mr. Lopez in the medium, the anteroom area between the doors at the entrance of the store.
During the confrontation, Mr. Servin testified that he identified himself as a Loss Prevention Officer and asked the defendant to remove the items from the duffel bag. Although Mr. Lopez produced the bike helmet and lock, when Mr. Servin asked for him to go back into the store to be processed, Mr. Lopez became uncooperative.
“He was screaming,” said Mr. Servin.
At that point, Mr. Lopez had removed a can of pepper spray and pointed it approximately 8 inches from Mr. Servin, as explained by him. “I had to (depart) from the situation for the safety of the customers and myself,” stated Mr. Servin when the pepper spray was brought out.
The defense questioned Mr. Servin’s motivations and his handling of the situation. When asked why he did not simply tell known thief Mr. Lopez to leave once he was identified, Mr. Servin stated, “Because I do not have the authority because I have never detained him, so I can’t tell him to leave.”
Moreover, the defense implied that he allowed Mr. Lopez on the premises to give the officer an opportunity to detain him. Mr. Servin responded, “No, I just wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he changed as a person.”
The defense then inquired about the possible physical contact made by Mr. Servin on the suspect. Although Mr. Servin stated to Woodland Police that Mr. Lopez had exclaimed not to “touch” him, he explained that statement occurred after Mr. Lopez had presented the pepper spray. Furthermore, Mr. Servin testified he did not ever physically touch Mr. Lopez.
The defense ended the examination by inquiring the total cost of the items Mr. Lopez took. Mr. Servin stated that he believed the total to be approximately 20 dollars.
The witness was dismissed.
The People’s next witness was Officer Simeon McKenzie, one of the police officers who had arrived at the scene.
Officer McKenzie testified that, when he investigated a backpack belonging to Mr. Lopez, he discovered 50 units of brown liquid in a pulled-back syringe. When a “NIK test” (Narcotics Identification Kit, a field presumptive drug testing kit) was performed, Officer McKenzie testified that it showed a presumptive positive for heroin.
Furthermore, during an interview with the suspect, Officer McKenzie stated that Mr. Lopez was acting extremely emotional and making unusual accusations. “He said he was emotionally upset, suffered from memory loss or Alzheimer’s. That the loss prevention were gang members.”
When Officer McKenzie questioned the suspect about the heroin, the officer explained that Mr. Lopez stated that it was for the pain in his knees.
The People rested their case, Mr. Lopez was held to answer and his arraignment will occur on November 10, 2016.