Judge Reduces Firearm Felonies for Man after Clerk Refuses to Serve Him because He’s Black

By Jose Medina

SACRAMENTO, CA – Felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors for defendant Deshawn Provost-Foreman at a preliminary hearing in Sacramento County Superior Court last week, after it was revealed in court that he was being racially discriminated against by a store clerk for being Black.

Provost-Foreman is being charged with brandishing a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, and unregistered sale and transfer of a firearm. His unregistered firearm and concealed weapon charges were initially felony offenses that were reduced to misdemeanors by the end of the hearing.

According to Officer Kyle Roberts, he was dispatched to a smoke shop in Sacramento on March 31, 2020, for an argument between a customer and a store clerk that resulted in a brandishing firearm incident.

Officer Roberts then pulled over a vehicle that the defendant and his girlfriend were driving in. Officer Roberts searched the vehicle and found an unloaded handgun and magazines underneath the passenger seats.

According to eyewitness testimony from a customer taken by Officer Cairo Juarez, Provost-Foreman walked into a smoke shop located in Sacramento and asked the store clerk if he could get some change for his $20 bill. The clerk then refused his request.

Provost-Foreman tried to be reasonable with the store clerk and offered to buy some candy and get change with the purchase. Once again, the clerk refused.

The defendant then asked the clerk, “Why? Is it because I’m Black?” to which the clerk answered yes.

A heated argument between Provost-Foreman and the clerk then broke out that then led to the clerk pulling out a pipe and swinging it toward the defendant’s head.

Officer Juarez recalled that the witness told him that Provost-Foreman then left the store and came back with a handgun in his pocket to confront the clerk. According to the witness, the defendant was holding the handle, but the gun never left his pocket and he asked the clerk, “Do you have change for me now?”

The witness then told Officer Juarez that she intervened and advised the defendant, “No, it’s not worth it, go get change somewhere else.” The defendant’s girlfriend then came into the store and pulled him out of the store and they both left.

A few moments later Provost-Foreman and his girlfriend were pulled over by Officer Roberts—after they finally received change for their $20 bill from a nearby store.

After hearing the testimonies of the incident Judge Stephen Acquisto was compelled to reduce the defendant’s charges to a misdemeanor because Provost-Foreman is young, has no criminal record, was racially discriminated against by the clerk, and the clerk swung a pipe toward his head.

Judge Acquisto made it clear that he does not condone the defendant’s act of brandishing a firearm, but pointed out how the clerk did not treat Provost-Foreman with dignity and even refused a transaction based on his race.

He then addressed everyone present: “So does that excuse brandishing a firearm? No it doesn’t, but man, that’s dehumanizing, that’s gonna make someone feel angry, that’s a circumstance you just cannot ignore.”

Deputy District Attorney Jordan Avey agreed with the judge that Provost-Foreman was treated inhumanely by the clerk. However, she insisted that the charges stay as felonies, arguing that “it does not excuse what the defendant did in response.”

Judge Acquisto was not convinced with this argument, since the store clerk acted appallingly toward the defendant.

Judge Acquisto then asked Avey if she believed that the clerk swinging a pipe toward the defendant was an appropriate act, to which she replied, “I believe there is an argument that what the clerk did was appropriate just based on the fact that he had a customer that refused to leave,” and added, “However, I am not excusing anything the clerk said before that.”

The judge then pointed out the circumstances of the incident and stated that “unless the customer is literally some sort of non-violent saint when the store clerk says ‘I’m not going to serve you because of your race,’ I don’t know how that situation doesn’t become tense,” sympathetically adding that “if someone told me that I would become heated and argumentative immediately.”

DDA Avey asserted that the court draw its attention to the firearm being concealed in the defendant’s vehicle and that it was unregistered.

She argued that the defendant’s handgun “is in the car to be used in situations that are not legal which is grabbing it and brandishing it in front of the clerk,” adding, “I do believe the fact that it is in the car for the purpose it was then used and then put back in the car and concealed again, that does amount to a felony.”

Once again, Judge Acquisto was not convinced by the prosecutor’s arguments.

He argued, “I can’t draw the conclusion that it was there with the intention of doing conduct like this.” He noted that experiencing racial discrimination “is not such a common occurrence that the firearm is in the vehicle for that expressed purpose with that intention.”

Judge Acquisto further added, “I don’t know. I don’t have the experience of a Black person but I don’t think you can perceive an outright refusal of service” and that “when you walk into a store with the clerk explicitly stating, ‘I’m not serving you ’cause your Black’ I would like to think that would take anyone by surprise” and that a firearm wouldn’t be in a vehicle for those reasons.

He noted that the defendant had lost his composure after hearing the clerk’s racist comments.

The judge reduced Provost-Foreman’s charges to misdemeanors and did not issue a holding order. Further proceedings were set for June 10 in Dept. 2.

Jose graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Political Science and has interned for the California State Legislature. He is from Rocklin, CA.

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