By Ruby Zapien
On February 7, 2017, the Honorable Janene Beronio presided over the jury trial of the People v. Frank Alexander Salazar in Department 9. The defendant is being represented by Deputy Public Defender Lisa Lance, with Deputy District Attorney Shelby Davitt representing the People.
Mr. Salazar is being charged with second degree robbery, under California Penal Code sections 211 and 212.5(c); use of a deadly or dangerous weapon in the commission of a felony or attempted felony, under California Penal Code section 12022(b)(1); and assault with a deadly weapon by means of force that is likely to cause great bodily injury to another, under California Penal Code section 245(a)(1).
Opening statements from the People began with playing a 911 call from September 22, 2016. The call was from “RM,” who described seeing a man running with a frying pan from the Grocery Outlet in West Sacramento, across Harbor Boulevard through traffic. This man was being chased by what appeared to be a Grocery Outlet employee, and, once on the other side of the road, the man began to swing at the employee with the frying pan.
The first witness called to the stand was “AM,” a Kaiser employee and wife of the 911 caller. She and her husband were at the gas station at the corner of Harbor Blvd. and Evergreen Avenue on the day of the incident. AM claimed to see a dark-haired and dark-skinned male running down the street with a Grocery Outlet shopping basket.
When the witness saw the man swinging the frying pan, she told her husband, “Go help that guy.”
The People brought up a statement made by AM to an investigator assigned to the case. AM had stated that it appeared the man wanted to bash the brains out of the Grocery Outlet employee.
AM clarified that the swings taken at the employee were “a raise with power towards that area,” as she gestured a powerful overhead swing.
When AM was asked to describe the man with the frying pan, she stated, “dark skin, dark hair, and a black and white striped shirt.” AM also affirmed that she would not be able to identify the man if she were ever to see him gain.
The defense returned to the witness’ conversation with the investigator. Ms. Lance asked if AM’s exact words to describe the subject were, “dark skin, dark hair, I think African American.” Mrs. Miller confirmed that.
The following witness was RM, husband to AM. RM also described the incident as a Grocery Outlet employee chasing a man with a frying pan across Harbor Blvd.
“What made you call 911?” asked Ms. Davitt.
“I thought someone was in danger of bodily harm,” responded RM.
The 911 call was played for RM. He confirmed that was his voice and that he made the call.
Ms. Lance quoted the 911 operator on the recording, asking RM if the subject was “White, Black, Hispanic, Asian…” Ms. Lance then asked if RM answered “black” with no hesitation. RM affirmed.
With no further questions from either party, RM was excused.
By Tiffany Yeh
Officer Cameron Simpson, a West Sacramento police officer, testified in court about the case. He identified the defendant in the courtroom as the man that witness “Ms. X” claimed she saw.
Around 12:20pm on the day of the incident, Officer Simpson was driving from the Shell gas station in West Sacramento at the intersection of West Capitol Avenue and Harbor Boulevard when he was called by dispatch to pick up a witness from the Grocery Outlet in West Sacramento.
Officer Simpson drove to Grocery Outlet and brought the witness, Ms. X, to the Shell gas station for a field showup with the suspect there.
The officer stated that he read an admonishment word for word from a notebook to witness Ms. X, and then asked her first to look at a picture of a man. When asked by the officer whether the person in the photo was the person she saw at the Grocery Outlet, she said yes, he was.
In the field showup, it began from approximately 50 ft. away from the suspect (Mr. Salazar) and then approached to 40 ft. away (they were driving toward the suspect). The man was wearing a black and white shirt with a pattern like a checkerboard, which appeared similar to gray in some areas.
Ms. Lance later asked Officer Simpson if he recalled whether the person was wearing a shirt with large horizontal stripes. When the officer drove up to the suspect, the suspect was standing.
Around four or five police officers were near the suspect.
Ms. Lance asked Office Simpson if he recalled the description that dispatch gave for what the suspect looked like, and whether they mentioned the person was African American. The officer said he could not recall what description dispatch gave him over the radio.
Ms. X gave a statement to the police. Officer Simpson stated that he did not collect any physical evidence of the robbery from the store.