COURT WATCH: Jury Trial Proceeds for Man Accused of Robbing Lowe’s – Police Admit Never Verifying Whether Items Were Stolen

By Helen Shamamyan 

WOODLAND, CA – Witness testimony here this week in a Yolo County Superior Court jury trial from a police officer confirms a homeless man who allegedly robbed a Lowe’s store may not have had any items that were confirmed to be stolen.

And, as borne out of other testimony from police and employees shows discrepancies in the events leading to the violent apprehension of the accused, including police releasing an attack dog (that subsequently injured the accused, sending him to the hospital) without proper warning.

Deputy District Attorney Aimee McLeod and Deputy Public Defender Dave Muller, completed the examination and cross-examination of one of the policemen on scene, Officer Hector Torres, who participated in the containment of the accused after his alleged “fleeing the scene” and “booking in” evidence of the crime, such as the accused’s backpack and the gun on his waistband.

Torres testified he was about 15 feet away as a K-9 caught the accused and immobilized him. He was also prompted multiple times to reiterate his process of booking in evidence and displayed some of the objects he examined in the West Sacramento Police Department.

In prior appearances, the accused shared how he was made to feel uncomfortable as he was being followed throughout the store. Civilian witnesses, such as an employee and a customer, gave their accounts of the accused appearing to be “suspicious” and allegedly  “flashing” a gun as an intimidation tactic.

However, when officers arrived on the scene and the accused allegedly made an escape attempt out of the parking lot, Officer Torres stated he followed a fellow officer and his K-9, hearing and seeing the pursuing officer’s statements and attempts to stop the accused from running.

Torres claimed he heard his fellow officer Gil yell at the accused that he would release his dog if he didn’t stop.

However, DPD Muller’s audio exhibit of the bodycam footage showed an immediate signal for the dog to attack without giving a warning or a chance for the accused to pay head to the officer’s commands.

In the testimony, the witnessing officer also states he saw the accused reach for his waistband with the very arm that was in the grasp of the K-9 after being wrestled to the floor, pulling out a handgun with his left hand and “pointing the barrel towards (him) ” before tossing the gun away and surrendering to the arrest.

The officer also testified that the gun magazine was loaded, hence the charges of the use and possession of a firearm unregistered to himself, and resisting or obstructing a public officer.

However, the previous day there was testimony the gun could not work.

In booking the backpack possessed by the accused, Officer Torres testified that he only noted the items were the “Dremel drill” and a three-quarters empty bottle of alcohol (unspecified.)

DPD Muller asked whether anyone confirmed whether the drill was the “property of the store” or if it indeed belonged to the accused, and the witness confirmed that this key information was never verified with certainty.

Today’s witness also confirmed in cross-examination that he did not make note of anything else in the backpack other than those two items. Thus, he could not recall if there were “any other items” to indicate “homelessness” (such as toiletries or clothes.)

About The Author

I am a student from Southern California that's graduating this year from UC Berkeley. Prior to coming here, I worked as a court watch/ law clerk for a PEO in worker's comp cases of California warehouses. I reported the hearing summaries and outcomes to the employer and maintained correspondence with the attornies prior to and after each hearing on behalf of my boss. I have nearly completed by Bachelors in English, and I am planning on taking a break year before delving into law school to study civil rights defense.

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