COURT WATCH: San Francisco Judge Rules Accused Must Answer to 4 counts of Possession of Loaded Weapon, Ammunition although He Doesn’t Fit Suspect Description

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

By Alicia Mayora Olivares 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – After being at the scene of a stolen vehicle crash site, a San Francisco man is being held after a San Francisco County Superior Court hearing of being liable of charges of possession of a loaded gun and ammunition.

On Sept. 18, SF Police Dept. officers testified they witnessed two cars driving at a high rate of speed on the opposite side of the road, and ultimately crash with the accused standing nearby.

Judge Michael Rhoads ruled last week at the preliminary hearing the accused must answer to the charges.

Under the supervision of Deputy Public Defender Chris Foxlent, law clerk Andie Grossman argued the accused did not fit the description of any of the suspects in the vehicles and was never seen inside the vehicles, and maintained there was no reason to detain and search the accused in the first place.

During the cross-examination from Deputy District Attorney Eugene Frid, the police officer admitted that, while he did not see the accused inside the vehicle, he was a foot or two away from the crash site. 

The officer noted the accused started running from the scene, and when ordered to stop, the accused did not. The officer stated a firearm not registered to the accused was later found in one of the crashed cars, along with an extended magazine.

Upon questioning from Grossman, the officer said he observed three people in the white car. The driver wore black clothing and a mask with blue plastic gloves; the front passenger wore black clothing. 

Upon further questioning, the officer confirmed the accused was wearing a red sweatshirt and no face mask at the time of the incident. 

The officer stated his first interest was in speeding and agreed that leaving a crash site, as the accused did, if not the driver, was not illegal. Again, the defense declared the accused did not match the driver’s description.

During the cross-examination of a second witness, another SFPD officer said he received a call from dispatch for a suspect fighting the police. The officer said he patted down the accused and found a firearm and magazine; he believed the gun was loaded and gave it to another officer, who could not confirm in court the gun was loaded but, said it appeared to be loaded.

Testimony of the third and final witness, the lead investigator, confirmed the accused was walking in the crash area and was not in the cars. While conducting his investigation, the office said the accused had told him he found the gun but was going to return it.

In her final arguments, the defense argued there was insufficient evidence to show the accused was involved because officers never communicated why they stopped the accused, the suspect’s description did not fit the accused, and the charge was as far as a bystander could have been from the scene. Grossman also argued the witnesses could not show the gun was loaded.

District Attorney Eugene Frid claimed the accused was the only person in the vicinity of the crash. Because the police saw the accused running upon their arrival, it provided enough suspicion that the accused was connected to a crime.

Judge Rhoads agreed nothing tied the accused to the car, but because he was near, there was enough evidence for reasonable suspicion to detain, arrest, and search the accused. 

Judge Rhoads determined, based on the evidence provided in court, and a very low bar need in a preliminary hearing, the accused must be held to answer on four counts of possession of a loaded weapon and ammunition.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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