By Ariella Seidman-Parra
SAN FRANCISCO – “Give me money, I need money, or I’ll f***ing shoot you,” demanded Lasonya Denise Wells to her cab driver in mid-March of 2020, according to some of the explosive testimony at Wells’ preliminary hearing in San Francisco Superior Court last week.
Witnesses recounted how, on March 16, 2020, 44-year-old Wells, wearing a black baseball hat, got into the backseat of a cab sitting directly behind the driver, along with another woman who sat in the passenger side of the backseat.
Once the two women arrived at their destination at 21st and Shotwell, the other woman got out of the car and walked away, but Wells stayed, as stated by the cab driver who spoke with the officer testifying in this case.
When questioned in court by Wells’ defense attorney on June 29, 2020, the arresting police officer said that Wells pulled a black semi-automatic handgun out, pointed it at the driver, and demanded money, threatening that she would shoot him. At this point, the driver handed Wells $80, she exited the vehicle, and walked over to meet the other woman who had previously been in the cab with her.
The police officer testified that two days later, on March 18, he had been alerted by the cab driver of this incident, and, based on the officer’s bulletin, he identified Wells on the street and arrested her.
After the arrest, the police officer said he went to the Yellow Cab San Francisco office, and acquired surveillance video footage from the inside of the cab. The officer made the arrest before watching the video footage.
Wells was taken to the police station where they took pictures of her. The pictures taken at the station show her wearing false eyelashes, which were shown in court. She also had pepper spray hanging from the waistband of her black pants and she wore a black zip up. Wells was then transported to San Francisco County Jail #1.
Roughly a month later, on April 29, around eight in the morning, a different Yellow Cab driver picked up a female passenger, Lasonya Denise Wells, this time wearing a pink jumpsuit, a white mask, a black backpack, a black baseball hat, and distinctive long fake eyelashes, in the Mission District. When they arrived at her destination at 25th and Dakota, Wells pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the driver, and demanded money, recounted the driver to the officer who arrived at his manager’s office later that day.
The driver refused to give her money, and instead told her to go ahead and fire the gun, unaware of the fact that it was a replica. He reported that he said this because he knew of incidents like this happening in the past, and knew the person wouldn’t actually shoot.
The driver said that he then heard a clang, which he believed to be the sound of his passenger, who was sitting directly behind him, pulling the trigger of the firearm. The driver said he was not scared, which was why he did not call 911 at that moment. He reported it to his manager later that morning and the police were called. Officer Huang, when being questioned by defense counsel in court, said that he received a CD copy of the surveillance video from the inside of the taxi car, which he did not watch.
On May 6, 2020, Mission Police Station officers were driving and spotted Wells on 17th and Mission. In court, the arresting officer stated that he saw her first and notified his partner that it was Wells. He pulled up the email from his department that had been sent out, although this officer had encountered her and spoken to her many times himself. He checked the bulletin, as he wanted to make sure he had sufficient reason to arrest her, and he wasn’t just arresting her for simply standing on a street corner.
Wells was booked for the felony charges of attempted robbery, armed with a firearm in the commission of a felony, committing a crime while released on bail, and being a convicted felon in possession of teargas. She was bound over for trial after her prelim before Judge Braden C. Woods. Ms. Wells’ next court date will be July 15, 2020, to be arraigned and have a trial date set.
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