By Lauren Smith
SACRAMENTO – The surging Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality movement after a string of the continuing and high profile killings of unarmed Black men and women by law enforcement nationwide, protests and riots across the country erupted since late in May.
Although researchers have found about 85 percent or more of the demonstrations were peaceful, there was some looting and property violence – one such case came before a Sacramento County Superior Court Friday.
Defendant Aaron Givins is just one of a handful arrested for looting and was later charged with burglary and taking advantage of a state of emergency to commit burglary. At his preliminary hearing Friday morning, Givins heard Sacramento Police Officer Jon Deardorff and Sacramento Detective John Fan testify to two burglaries that occurred on May 31.
Officer Deardorff testified that he responded to a report of a burglary at a mini mart. The owner stated that when he arrived at work, he saw that the “windows were broken, the counter was smashed [and] the ATM was damaged or stolen.”
The owner also noted that “cigarettes, clothing, [and] money from the cash register” were stolen. He estimated about $190,000 in damages.
Deardorff said that when he questioned the defendant on June 18, Givins initially denied breaking into the mini mart and stealing anything. After Givins was confronted with CCTV footage, he changed his story and admitted to stealing cigarettes, but did not admit to breaking any of the windows or the counters.
The officer also questioned him about another break in at another store that also occurred on May 31 The defendant admitted to “stealing a pair black socks and a pair shoes and then nothing else because everything else was mismatched,” according to the officer.
Detective Fan testified in more detail about the burglary at “Kicx.” The store owner reported that his store was “looted” in the early morning and that “looters stole everything.” He reported that the amount of “high end shoes, clothing and accessories” that were stolen, in addition to the smashed windows, amounted to over $1 million in damages.
In his argument before the court, defense attorney Byron Roope argued that the only evidence heard in court was that Givins stole cigarettes, shoes and socks. No evidence was submitted that showed he broke the windows and counters in the mini mart or Kicx. “Cigarettes socks and shoes and a nine-year offer seems a little excessive” Roope concluded.
However, due to the fact that the bar at a preliminary evidence hearing is set lower that at trial, Judge Gerrit Wood ruled the testimony given by the officers were “sufficient cause” to keep the charges against the defendant.
Givins’ trial is set for February 8.
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