By Varun Noronha
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A Potrero Hill resident accused of stealing two vehicles and evading police officers appeared before a judge in San Francisco County Superior Court Friday. However, while the arresting officer identified the accused in court, the accused was not described in the police report.
Assistant District Attorney Armando Miranda called the arresting officer as the prosecution’s sole witness to establish there was sufficient evidence at this preliminary hearing to proceed to trial.
The police sergeant stated he was instructed through his police scanner to search for a white pickup truck carrying a stolen motorcycle. When the officer identified a vehicle matching that description, he said he turned on his siren, and the driver sped up to avoid being pulled over, beginning a chase.
The sergeant claimed during the chase that the pickup truck turned onto a one-way street facing the wrong direction, “endangering pedestrians, other drivers, and the passengers in his vehicle.”
At this point, the sergeant said he abandoned his pursuit of the pickup truck, and another police cruiser took over. The officers in this police cruiser induced the driver to pull over and exit the vehicle on Mariposa Street in Potrero Hill.
When the sergeant arrived at the scene, the other officers had detained the driver and the passengers: a woman and two dogs. The driver was placed under arrest and the passengers were released after questioning.
According to the sergeant, the SFPD later learned the pickup truck had also been reported stolen.
During cross-examination, Deputy Public Defender Deborah Awolope asked the sergeant why he did not include identifying information about the driver of the white pickup truck aside from stating that he was a white man. The officer replied it was not relevant to the police report.
The DPD also confirmed the pickup truck was driving lawfully before the chase began, suggesting that the officer could have mitigated danger to civilians by avoiding the chase.
ADA Miranda asserted the arresting officer had clearly identified the accused as the driver of the white pickup truck and demonstrated both the truck and the motorcycle it was carrying were stolen.
DPD Awolope again disputed the completeness of the police report, making the case that the sergeant’s testimony was less convincing without a written record connecting the accused to the crimes.
The DPD also argued the prosecution had failed to establish whether the accused knowingly stole the vehicles or thought that they had been abandoned.
Judge Carolyn Gold ruled ADA Miranda had presented enough evidence to move to trial on all four felony counts: evading a police officer, driving in the opposite direction of traffic, theft of a vehicle and larceny.