By Alana Bleimann
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Two witnesses testified Tuesday here in San Francisco County Superior Court during the third day of the Deshon Marman trial—Marman is accused of resisting arrest and trying to grab an officer’s weapon—but only after the public defender motioned for a mistrial.
Monday afternoon opening statements were heard from both Assistant District Attorney Asit Pahwala and Assistant Public Defender Diamond Ward.
When discussing Marman’s PTSD and other mental health diagnoses during her opening statement, “Mr. Pahwala objected three times,” Ward told Judge Brendon Conroy.
Judge Conroy had instructed and requested Ward not to talk about Marman’s prior trauma, including his past experience being shot.
“I think that (the prosecution’s objections) insinuates to the jury… that I had done something wrong,” Ward stated, regarding the objections. “It is a violation of Mr. Marman’s 6th Amendment rights…it’s not fair to him.”
The 6th Amendment “guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay, the right to a lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to know who your accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against you,” according to the U.S. Constitution.
APD Ward requested that she re-do her opening that morning in front of the jury, so that Marman’s jury could remain impartial, noting, “I’m already at a disadvantage.”
“I don’t think it would be proper to let her open… it creates a number of issues,” ADA Pahwala stated, suggesting the court had taken Ward’s side in the case.
Denying the motion for a mistrial, Judge Conroy agreed with Pahwala and stated, “It [the objections] didn’t undermine Ms. Ward, I think,” but said he “will consider” letting Ward re-do her opening at a later date.
The jury was then called into the room to begin listening to witness testimonies.
The Assistant Store Director of Safeway at 350 Bay Street was the first Tuesday witness, noting he handed over store security footage to police, which was then shown to the jury and taken in as evidence.
The witness was able to pick himself out of the videos, sharing that at the time he was wearing a checkered shirt. “I’m right there on the top right hand corner, wearing a checkered shirt,” he said.
The witness said the video showed Marman in the Safeway’s liquor aisle and he “had a face mask that was down” and eventually “went to the back of the dairy aisle and had his mask down because he was eating something.”
The witness then pointed to a female security guard in the footage who was standing in the meat aisle. At the time, “I was following the security guard who was following the man [Marman],” the witness stated.
However, the witness also stated that he did not see the guard and Marman interact at all.
When asked why the security guard was following Marman, the witness stated “there had been a lot of theft in the store recently… wanted to make sure nothing happened.”
The video showed that, other than having his mask down below his mouth, Marman was not doing anything questionable that would have suggested to the guard that he was about to steal something. Then, the witness described how he moved away from the guard to stand by the cash register.
APD Ward began cross-examining this witness, who revealed that before the day of the incident, Sept. 18, 2020, he had never seen Marman before, and he confirmed he was only following Marman “at the liquor area” even though his previous testimony stated that he followed him “at various points.”
“What happened to the other camera footage that was not shown to the police?” Ward asked.
“They were still recording,” the witness said, but he could not remember if he turned them over to the district attorney. He was only asked to hand over certain areas of film because “the police didn’t ask for everything.”
Again, the witness confirmed that Marman did not steal anything from Safeway and, if he had stolen something, he or another employee would have made a report.
After this day, the witness was made aware that something had been stolen because, when the police contacted him for the surveillance footage, they said “there was an assault on a police officer.”
But the person or employee who did witness the theft did not make any report of it.
ADA Pahwala then called Officer Robert Duffield to the witness stand, who drove to the scene with Officer Tang at around 1:40 p.m. Officer Duffield received a notice that there had been “a female security guard that was assaulted in a shop-lifting type incident.”
“When we responded to the store … the security guard was not there” because she tried to follow the person (Marman) who had allegedly assaulted her, Officer Duffield told the court.
The two officers got back into their vehicle and drove around the area to look for her. Very quickly they found her on a sidewalk on Bay and Kearney Streets.
On the street, the security guard “was pretty calm and composed” and “not super agitated,” said Officer Duffield, who found her composure surprising, considering she had allegedly “just got punched.”
Additionally, she didn’t have any injuries on her, Officer Duffield testified.
“She said the suspect [Marman] has gone southbound down Embarcadero,” Officer Duffield said, and he instructed her to get into the car with him so that they could drive around and look for him.
After driving for only one minute, across half a block, the security guard pointed Marman out on the street.
Both Officer Tang and Officer Duffield parked and stepped out of their vehicle when they saw Marman on the street.
According to Officer Duffield, Officer Tong yelled “Stop!” at Marman, who was running in the opposite direction. This is when Officer Duffield radioed to his dispatch alarming other officers of the situation at hand.
The officers did not catch up with him until Marman “fled into this grassy area… on Montgomery [street].” Marman ran around a pole and into Officer Tang. “When he encountered Officer Tang,” Officer Duffield explained, “he [Marman] tackled him [Tang] and brought him [Tang] to the ground.”
As the fight broke out, Officer Duffield ran to help Tang by using his right forearm to knock Marman to the ground and off of Tang. However, Officer Duffield also fell to the ground and Marman grabbed his baton from the left side of Officer Duffield’s body.
“The baton was not used on me,” Officer Duffield clarified to the jury.
The two men fought over the baton, which went flying into the air above Officer Duffield’s head and onto the ground away from them.
Suddenly, “the suspect [Marman] came towards me with a biting motion… his teeth bared” and allegedly began biting Officer Duffield’s forehead.
From this, Officer Duffield sustained injury to his lower forehead and above one of his eyebrows, and testified that “I was in shock… unlike anything I’ve seen in 23 years.”
After pulling his head away from Marman’s teeth, Marman directed his attention back to Officer Tang, who yelled that Marman was going for his firearm.
Officer Duffield began punching, or hammer striking, Marman’s face five to seven times, but these punches “had no effect,” he said.
At this point, Officer Duffield explained to the court that a crowd began gathering and some were filming the fight. Officer Duffield asked them for help, but none came.
“At that point, I utilized my OC spray,” Officer Duffield stated.
When asked if he considered using his firearm on Marman, Officer Duffield sighed and said, “I did consider using my firearm” but ended up deciding not to because he “wanted to protect everyone including Mr. Marman.”
In fact, the pepper spray worked, he said, to distract Marman—and he said two bystanders also got sprayed.
Six officers came to help Officers Duffield and Tang arrest Marman at the scene. The officer said as Marman was being handcuffed “he did reference George Floyd” and how badly his eyes were burning from the spray. To ease the pain, Officer Duffield said he poured water on Marman’s eyes until the medics arrived.
“Everything happened very fast … very fluid,” Officer Duffield said to the court, and noted he “didn’t have much time to think … only react.”
The morning ended with these two witness testimonies and the trial will be ongoing throughout the rest of the week.