Black Man Claims Self Defense After Striking Alleged Pursuer with Flashlight – Homelessness Complicates His Release; Passionate Public Defender Calls Case ‘Stupid’

By Esme Lipton and Alex Tuchman

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Public Defender Kathleen Natividad went head-to-head with Judge Brian L. Ferrall in a heated debate over the immediate release of defendant Boris Wayne Abram Thursday afternoon in San Francisco County Superior Court, Dept. 11.

“It’s a stupid case, it never should have been filed as a felony,” Natividad argued. “Keeping him in custody makes zero sense […] it’s only exacerbating his homelessness […] and his trauma.”

Abram is charged for allegedly striking someone in the head with a heavy flashlight, resulting in a laceration behind the 18-year-old victim’s ear. Abram, however, told the police that he was acting in self-defense.

PD Natividad claims that Abram, an African-American man, was being followed by two white men leading up to the assault in question. As shown on video, Abram repeatedly turned around and told the men to stop following him.

“Mr. Abram was not chasing him […] or trying to get to him. [The defendant] was followed onto the bus [and] followed off of the bus,” argued the attorney.

The judge was concerned that the defendant’s use of racial slurs caused the altercation, although there is some confusion surrounding who initiated the slander. However, since Abram is black, Natividad argued that the N-word holds a different meaning when he says it, versus when the two white men following him use it.

Although she is non-black, Natividad began reciting the racial epithets in front of the judge; she did not hesitate to repeat the N-word multiple times as she addressed the court. Judge Ferrall seemed unmoved by the defense’s argument, stating that Natividad points “don’t hold water.”

“I’m not here to judge whether those epithets justify following Mr. Abram or not, but […] ultimately, the physical injury was caused and that’s a danger to the public, period,” Judge Ferrall claimed. “The question for me is, what evidence do I have to believe that another person is not going to be injured by Mr. Abram if he’s released?”

The defense responded that she was simply asking the judge “to see the holes in this,” pleading with the court to not derail Abram’s progress because of a possible self-defense case.

Natividad went on to argue that the incident in question does not prove the defendants likelihood to commit murder or great bodily harm to another.

The prosecution argued that Abram is a “public safety risk,” and ultimately filed a motion to detain him.

“This is the defendant’s second instance where he is alleged to have committed violence,” stated the prosecutor. Abram has two open cases, both of which are set for trial.

Natividad pointed out that Abram has been doing well on release for a separate charge, consistently staying in contact with the court, and attending all of his court dates. The defendant is homeless and has been residing at the Navigation Center, where he is trying “to make his life more stable.”

However, although Judge Ferrall was willing to release him on home detention, Abram may not be permitted to live under house arrest at the Navigation Center. Because he is homeless, Abram may face a harsher sentence.

“If there were a place where he could be released on home detention, I would do that,” said the judge.

Judge Ferrall gave the public defender two options for her client: release Abram with home detention, possibly at the Navigation Center, or make an in-custody referral as the court decides on a motion to detain.

Natividad sought Abram’s immediate release so that he may continue his efforts towards more stable housing and rehabilitation.

About The Author

Alex Tuchman is a third year law student at UC Hastings. She is originally from Los Angeles, California.

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