Suspect ID Questioned by ‘Language Barrier’

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By Victoria Lembesis

SACRAMENTO – In a probable cause hearing in Sacramento County Superior Court Thursday, the defense alleged that because of a language barrier while the suspect was being identified there was not enough proof to prove Jeffery Brewer was the suspect.

Brewer is facing charges of felony robbery and misdemeanor vandalism.

On August 10, Sacramento Police Officer Caleb Patterson was called out to a market because someone was allegedly causing a disturbance inside the store. A grocery store employee called 911 because, he said, he felt unsafe and concerned for his welfare.

The subject kicked the door of the market and broke it off its hinges. He was also waving around a bottle of liquor and screaming erratically. The subject was noted by Officer Patterson to have yelled, “I rob you” as well as incoherently shouting.

The suspect allegedly also stole two energy drinks.

Other officers were later able to locate a someone fitting the description given by the Bonfare Market employee. The suspect they located was defendant Brewer.

This employee later identified the suspect as the man who had entered the store and stole the energy drinks. Patterson said he was aware that the grocery store employee’s primary language was not English. Though there may have been a language barrier, Officer Patterson did not elect to use an interpreter because he felt the witness spoke enough English.

Patterson is a translator in his department, but not for the specific language spoken by the witness. The officer noted that he did not know what the grocery store employee’s primary language was.

While Officer Patterson attempted to have the witness identify Jeffery Brewer as the suspect, Patterson noted that the witness, at first, did not understand many of the words on the admonishment card.

Patterson noted he had to break it down in more basic English, at which point he noted that the grocery store employee understood what the admonishment card stated.

Assistant Public Defender Hubert Chen argued that because of this language barrier there was not enough proof to identify Brewer as the suspect.

Deputy District Attorney Sterling Wilkins noted that, since Patterson is a translator for his department, he is experienced in determining whether someone is in need of a translator. Because of Patterson’s experience, Wilkins reassured Judge Laurel White that Patterson’s judgment of the witnesses’ understanding should be trusted.

Probable cause was found to believe that charges of felony robbery and misdemeanor vandalism were committed, and committed by Brewer.

The matter will return for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 29.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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