COURT WATCH: Trial Ongoing for Unhoused Man Accused of Theft, Firearm (That Didn’t Work) Threat

By Citlalli Florez

WOODLAND, CA – A homeless man, who said he felt uncomfortable being followed by an employee who found him suspicious, is facing charges of 2nd degree robbery, use of a firearm (later determined not operable), carrying a concealed loaded firearm and resisting or obstructing a public officer in a jury trial that began here in Yolo County Superior Court this week.

The accused’s defense claimed there are inconsistencies with reports from the witnesses and from studies including video surveillance and the weapon found at the scene.

The first witness by the prosecution worked at Lowe’s during the time of the incident. She testified she saw the accused pushing a cart along the aisles and adding to the cart, allegedly taking protective wires off of objects.

The witness said she followed him around the store because “he seemed suspicious.” The accused, said the witness, noticed this before allegedly taking a drill and walking past the self-checkout.

Once the self-checkout was passed, the witness asked for the receipt and the accused allegedly walked off after stating, “Let me go or I’ll smash your teeth in.” However, based on testimony from the accused, there was no violence or threats.

The surveillance video only appears to show the accused walking outside of the store with the drill. The video shows the employee following him outside of the store and putting her hands up. The employee is seen walking into the store and using her phone. The video doesn’t show the accused exhibiting or pointing a gun.

But, according to the employee, she was fearful when the accused allegedly lifted up his shirt revealing what the witness called a “black rectangle.” The witness could not definitively identify a gun, but thought it to be one. From fear of being shot, the witness decided to return inside the store.

A customer, another witness, testified he walked outside toward his car which was in the same direction as the accused, and watched as the accused took a gun out of his pants and aimed it into the air before stating, “If you come any closer.”

The customer backed off and called 911, and said he watched the accused go behind the bushes carrying a drill as sirens came closer.

According to police reports, and testimony, a perimeter was set up and a police dog was also brought to the scene. The accused allegedly ran across the street away from the police. The canine was released and went after the accused. The accused’s arm was bitten.

The gun was allegedly thrown into the bushes at the time while the police searched his waistband. An officer assigned to check out the accused’s weapon testified the weapon was inoperable and couldn’t be fired.

Body cam footage shows officers told the dog to attack without giving the accused an opportunity to hear demands. As the dog is holding onto the accused’s arm the officer allegedly stated, “Stop or I’ll sic the dog on you!” despite it being too late.

The accused said he tried to comply but the dog was making it difficult.

The accused was arrested and transported to a hospital where it was revealed the accused was homeless and doing odd jobs. He went into Lowes to get materials for one of his jobs. The accused told the officer that he felt uncomfortable, according to court testimony.

The trial proceeds this week.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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