By The Vanguard Staff
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The San Francisco Public Defender announced Tuesday that a jury didn’t even take an hour to acquit a man of misdemeanor driving under the influence charges last week, noting the jury clearly “judged” it a “traumatic freeway accident” and not a crime.
“Mr. (Richard) Isom has long been a pillar of the community, working with youth to help end cycles of violence and incarceration that he experienced as a young person. This incident stemmed from a traumatic freeway accident and a subsequent misunderstanding, not any criminal conduct. I am glad that he was able to have a jury listen to what happened and judge it fairly,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju.
Isom, who testified that he was not intoxicated when his tire blew out on 280-South near Ocean Avenue, said he consumed alcohol in the panic that followed.
“I appreciate the jury for understanding the circumstances and making the right decision to acquit Mr. Isom who was not driving while intoxicated, but rather was shaken by a life-threatening accident,” said Deputy Public Defender Zachary Waterman.
“Mr. Isom has spent much of his life giving back to his community and would never do anything to endanger others,” added Waterman.
According to the PD Office, Isom was “driving home Sept. 21, 2021 from a social gathering when he hit a pothole, popped a tire, and spun out on the freeway.”
The PD statement added that Isom was [u]nable to move his car off the roadway, and the emergency hazard lights (were) no longer working (and) he knew he needed to get to the side of the road. In the panic, he grabbed unopened wine from his car and drank it on the side of the road as he waited on hold for the tow truck company for over 30 minutes.”
The police breathalyzer test showed Isom’s blood alcohol was above the legal limit. He admitted consuming two drinks prior to the accident, but a court expert testified that it wasn’t enough to elevate his blood alcohol to an illegal level.
The PD statement noted, “Mr. Isom attributed his panic, in part, to the fact that he had previously lost a family member to a freeway pile up, and had his own brush with death during a severe case of COVID-19.”
“He had just recently recovered after being hospitalized, in a coma and on a ventilator, not knowing whether he would live to raise his young son. The experience of having COVID inspired him to advocate for people in the Bayview to get vaccinated, and he currently volunteers at a COVID testing site to feed the staff,” the PD added.