By Anna Okada
SACRAMENTO – An alleged “looter” during the two weeks of protests against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis was released here in Sacramento County Superior Court, after identification issues and an outpouring of community support.
Raymond John Garcia is charged with multiple felonies for breaking into a restaurant and stealing bottles of liquor on June 1, during a tumultuous week in Sacramento marked with thousands of people peacefully demonstrating.
Deputy District Attorney Mitch Miller cited two witnesses who claim Garcia was likely involved in the break-in. Miller referenced a civilian witness who reported that she saw four people, whose faces allegedly match those who are now detained (including Garcia), break into a restaurant and come out with full backpacks.
Miller also mentioned a police witness, who said that he saw several people near the restaurant with bags of unopened liquor.
Assistant Public Defender Paul Gomez, however, asserted that Garcia is a victim of mistaken identity, and that, if he could access video surveillance of the restaurant and a police officer’s body camera, he would be able to prove Garcia’s innocence.
At the time of the court session, such footage had not yet been made available. Gomez also noted that content on Garcia’s phone shows no connection between Garcia and the co-defendants.
Gomez admitted that Garcia has a prior conviction for attempted murder, but that the offense occurred when Garcia was just 19 years old. Gomez declared that Garcia has been a positive member of the community since then. Gomez also emphasized the numerous community support letters received in favor of Garcia’s release.
Gomez asked Judge James Arguelles for Garcia’s pretrial release, and acknowledged that Garcia’s release is subject to change if future video evidence proves that Garcia is guilty.
DDA Miller, however, argued that while he has agreed to bail and pretrial releases for many defendants, this is the only case in which the defendant would be someone on parole for attempted murder. Garcia has been on parole since 2017 for his prior conviction in 1998.
Arguelles ultimately granted pretrial release for Garcia, specifying the letters of community support as the main incentive.
Garcia is still subject to a number of conditions, including “search and seizure” (Garcia’s property can be searched, and evidence relevant to a crime can be confiscated without a warrant) and weekly check-ins with probation officers.
All of the co-defendants allegedly involved in the crime (including Garcia) are scheduled to return to court on August 19, 2020.
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