By Manuel Espinoza
SAN FRANCISCO – On Feb. 19, 2020, in a preliminary hearing a man learned he will be going to trial after allegedly pulling a knife on loss prevention officers.
The hearing was part of a criminal case against the defendant, Lawrence Green, who allegedly pulled out a knife on loss prevention officers in a local store. Two officers were subpoenaed to testify about their involvement in the situation and their interactions with the employee and the defendant.
The assistant district attorney called Sergeant Adam Plantiga to the stand, where he was questioned about his interaction with Green. He stated that he had received information about a man with a knife who attacked an employee at a local store and had fled the scene. He was given the description that the suspect was a “Black male in his 30s or 40s, and was wearing a black jacket with camo pants.”
Sergeant Plantiga then approached the defendant, who was not too far from the store, made initial contact, and then detained Green on the basis that he matched the description. Sergeant Plantiga found the knife in the front right pants pocket and described it to be a “folded blade with a red handle.”
The deputy public defender followed by questioning the sergeant about the quick interaction he had with Green. Sergeant Plantiga stated that Green claimed he had no intent to use the knife and was simply using it to defend himself. Once this was noted, the defense had no further questions for Sergeant Plantiga and he was dismissed.
The prosecution then called Officer Eddy Lava to the stand to give his testimony. Officer Lava responded to the 911 call to the store where the incident occurred. Once at the scene, Officer Lava spoke to the employee of the store who confronted Green. The employee stated that there was an incident where someone in the store had a knife out, which prompted the call. Officer Lava’s report
detailed what the store employee stated about the situation.
The store employee stated that Green entered the store, went to Aisle 2, and then moved to Aisle 12, which is where the employee made initial contact with Green. The employee approached Green and told him to take what he had out of his backpack, to which Green did not comply. The employee did not see Green stealing any items from the aisles he was in.
The employee then prompted Green to leave the store because he was of the belief that Green had been taking items from them.
After being directed to leave the store, Green allegedly walked in the direction of the cash register, which is where a security guard officer intervened on behalf of the employee. From there, loss prevention officers approached Green, to which Green pulled out a knife on them.
Without actually witnessing any theft, the employee simply accused Green of taking items from the store. In fact, Green verbally stated to the employee that he intended to pay for the items that he left at the register. Green was still told to leave the store despite approaching the register and standing behind another customer. The defense argued that Green approached the register, not attempting to steal, but attempting to pay for his items.
The defense also questioned Officer Lava about the sequence of events following the confrontation on Aisle 12. Officer Lava stated that the employee lost sight of Green after their confrontation in Aisle 12 because the employee was on a phone call. When the employee approached Green for the second time, Green was standing in front of the register. After this questioning, Officer Lava was dismissed.
The defense asked the judge for a no holding order on the robbery charge because Green did not use force to take or retain property. The defense further noted that Green intended to pay and had the amount of $136 with him, which was something that was not reported by any of the officers in charge of the case. The defense also asked the judge for a no holding order on a charge for brandishing a weapon, because Green did not pull out the knife until the loss prevention officers put their hands on him first.
The hearing took a very brief break in order to review the surveillance footage of the incident. The defense held the ground that the weapon was not used and that the loss prevention officers had made physical contact with Green prior to the knife being pulled out. In contrast, the prosecution argued that Green refused to take the items out of his backpack after loss prevention officers ordered him to do so, and Green left the store with the items and with the knife.
The defense argued one last time that Green had the money to pay for the items, he verbally intended to pay, and had no intentions to steal.
The judge made his ruling that the evidence reflected Green pulled out a knife, he had store property and he left the store. It was also determined the court found probable cause because Green used a knife in order to commit a crime.
The judge set an arraignment date for March 4, 2020, in Department 22 of the San Francisco Hall of Justice. Green was left in custody and escorted out of the courtroom.
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