By Ryan Oh
A San Francisco resident named Reymundo Delgado found herself facing a potential battery charge. The defendant was allegedly punching and swinging unidentified objects toward two victims, both of whom are residents of San Francisco.
At the preliminary hearing on November 18, 2019, presided over by Judge Rita F. Lin, the People charged Mr. Delgado with felony battery. There were two witnesses present for the elaboration of Mr. Delgado’s case. The first witness, who identified himself as San Francisco Police Officer Dillan Bortmas, stated that he and two other officers responded to an incident at La Tortilla, a Mexican restaurant situated on 495 Castro St, on July 19, 2019. Officer Bortmas reported that he spoke with the alleged victim, who testified that the defendant initially threw items at employees then began to strike him. The victim then cited that Mr. Delgado pushed him to the ground, which caused his left arm to fracture in the process. The officer also cited a doctor’s note, which mentioned that the doctor was able to confirm a fracture on the victim’s left arm through a medical examination. Soon after the victim fell to the ground, Mr. Delgado reportedly exited the restaurant, while the second alleged victim chased after him. When the second victim chased Mr. Delgado and eventually confronted him, Mr. Delgado allegedly punched his face. The first alleged victim who broke his left arm added to his initial testimony to the police that Mr. Delgado seemed to be under the influence, as the defendant was stumbling prior to the strike. The victims and the defendant did not know each other before the incident. Finishing her examination, the assistant district attorney submitted two photos showing the first victim’s fracture as the evidence.
Despite the specifics mentioned by the first victim, there remained an oddity: there was no statement from the employees explaining the incident in the police report. The defendant’s counsel meticulously caught this oddity and further asked whether any of the employees approached Officer Bortmas for a statement. The officer responded with a no. In response to the defendant’s counsel, the officer reported that everyone in the restaurant, during the course of the incident, reportedly yelled to Mr. Delgado to calm down and leave the restaurant. When asked about how the first victim fractured his arm, the officer mentioned that he was unsure about the specific cause of the injury. The defendant’s counsel further pointed out that the first victim had stated that he was uncertain of how he fractured his left arm: The first victim stated, verbatim, “Somehow this happened,” which may indicate Mr. Delgado’s alleged strike was not a cause of the fracture.
For clarity, the People asked for a second witness, who identified herself as Sergeant Chandra Medina of the San Francisco Police Department. In her testimony, Sergeant Medina stated that she talked with the first victim over the phone about the incident. The sergeant confirmed that the victim’s testimony was similar to that provided to Officer Bortmas. Yet, Sergeant Medina’s testimony added new information: the first victim initially approached the defendant, not vice versa. The defendant’s counsel deemed this information critical as it differed from the implication from Officer Bortmas’ testimony, which suggested that Mr. Delgado, not the first victim, first approached the other.
In his closing statement, the defendant’s counsel stated that it was unclear whether Mr. Delgado’s alleged battery caused the first victim’s fracture on his left arm in reference to the ambiguous description of the two testimonies. Also, the defendant’s counsel pointed out that the second victim indicated that he did not want a charge against Mr. Delgado, while Mr. Delgado’s strong character – a studious student with the intention of practicing medicine – and lack of previous criminal records make this matter categorized under a degree of a misdemeanor, not that of a felony. Though Judge Rita F. Lin found sufficient evidence suggesting Mr. Delgado’s alleged battery, she granted relief under Penal Code section 17(b) and reduced this case to a misdemeanor.