By The Vanguard Staff
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A jury here Wednesday found a man – who was advocating for his pregnant partner at Kaiser Hospital – not guilty of assault and battery charges in what the public defender called an “emotionally charged case,” according to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.
Gione Edwards, 27, was arrested in April 2020 after a fracas with a security guard who tried to stop him from coming to the assistance of his partner. Edwards was trying to get away from the guard, who fell and was injured, according to the defense.
The defense team argued Edwards was acting in self-defense and the injuries were accidental.
The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the two main felony counts, and hung 11-1 in favor of not guilty on a lesser misdemeanor charge, which has now been dismissed.
“Several jurors were compelled to hug Mr. Edwards after court, the SF Public Defender’s Office said.
The affair began when Edwards’s partner was denied admittance to Kaiser for a doctor’s appointment. A nurse “was under the impression that she did not have an appointment and so tried to block her from taking the elevator upstairs,” said the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.
The PD defense team added the “situation escalated and resulted in nurses and security guards escorting her out of the building. During this whole incident, (the pregnant partner) was on FaceTime with Mr. Edwards who lived nearby and walked over to assist.”
The jury was told that Edwards “can be seen on camera waiting in line to go through security and COVID screening when a security guard came up and made the initial physical contact to block Mr. Edwards by touching his arm.”
If convicted, Edwards was facing the potential of two strikes – he has no prior convictions and is set to graduate from college soon.
“This was an emotionally powerful case that took a lot of courage from Mr. Edwards and his community to stand up to these allegations knowing that so much was on the line for him,” said Deputy Public Defender Jack Lamar, who represented Edwards.
Added Lamar. “The jurors were remarkably fair and showed Mr. Edwards dignity and respect, which is not what can be said for the way Kaiser treated this young African American couple.”
“We are relieved that Mr. Edwards finally got his day in court and that the jury returned the right verdict so that he can get on with his life and future success,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju, who sued San Francisco Superior Court in September to address the growing backlog of criminal trials, he said, while many courtrooms sit empty.
PD Lamar added Edwards and his partner both work at hospitals and are “familiar with professional standards and protocols,” noting “At the time of the incident, his partner was pregnant with what would have been their first child, but complications put the pregnancy at risk which is why she was attending regular appointments at Kaiser.”
According to the PD Office, Edwards “grew up in the Western Addition and is about to graduate from SFSU with plans to attend graduate school. He has always excelled in academics and athletics, and during the trial, the defense called several character witnesses from the community – including a former coach and a member of the San Francisco Fire Department – who spoke highly of his character and his achievements.”
“This case shows that even for people who are not in jail, but are waiting for the resolution of their cases, the amount of stress and disruption is palpable and unacceptable. I am proud of Mr. Edwards and the whole defense team for the fortitude they showed in taking this case to trial,” said Raju, noting, by name, the defense team, that included DPD Lamar, Investigator Fanny Suarez, Paralegal Melissa Campos and Legal Intern Emery Welton.