Judge Keeps Three Felonies on Man in Shoving Match in San Francisco

San Francisco Hall of Justice – Photo by David M. Greenwald

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

San Francisco, CA – A San Francisco judge admonished both sides that their conduct was disappointing, but despite conflicting evidence and accounts, he left three felony charges on a man involved in an altercation with a disabled woman.

The complaining witness in the case described what led up to the incident that occurred on September 26.  For the previous two years, she described a neighbor walking by her on a sidewalk, “violating my personal space.”

According to her account, the man, a 42-year-old African American, would walk several times close to her, at times so close as to step over her feet.

Finally she told the man if he did it again, “we are going to have a problem.”

On the day in question, she testified during the preliminary hearing that he walked by her twice, she stood up rapidly to confront him, he then pushed her.  She explained that she attempted to hit him with her cane, but he took away the cane and began beating her like it was a bat.

He then pushed her again, knocking her down giving her contusions and bruises.  She was taken the hospital and treated.

But the defense led by Public Defender Phoenix Streets painted a different picture and he had a video clip of the incident taken from surveillance cameras to back up his account.

He argued that the video showed that the accused never walked so close to the woman.  He walked through the area twice.  She apparently called out to him and stood up quickly.

At this time, he pushed her to get her away and attempted to walk away, but she struck him several times with the cane, before he grabbed the cane.

He again tried to walk away.  And he pushed her again—this time she fell.

Street argued that the counts should be struck and dismissed.  He argued that the woman was the aggressor with the cane and that the accused was defending himself.

However, DA Nancy Tung saw the video very differently.  She argued that the man was definitely the aggressor, having pushed an elderly woman initially.

She argued that her actions with the cane were in defense of his attack and that she suffered bruising and injuries.

The judge watched the full video twice.

In his ruling, he determined that the man was not walking over the complaining witness as she described.

Nevertheless, he felt that the man was clearly the aggressor.  He said that the push was with considerable force, and it knocked her into a bystander who then got up.

The judge noted that she indeed used the cane to attempt to strike him.

He said it was unclear whether the accused actually took possession of the cane or whether the cane hit her in the area where the contusion was depicted.

Nevertheless, he noted that there was a struggle between the two and the defendant walked away after the final shove.

“This is what jurors are for,” the judge said, noting that the video was not definitive.  He did say, “It doesn’t appear he gains possession of the cane.”

The judge held the man to answer on three felony counts of assault, battery, and assault with a deadly weapon (the cane).

At the end, he admonished both sides that it was disappointing that this got to this level.  And said he felt like both sides could have and should have handled the situation better.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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