San Francisco, CA — A man accused of gunning down a nightclub patron in 2007 was found not guilty Thursday following a six week trial that revealed police misconduct and witness tampering.
Kenoye Stroman, 26, was accused of killing Ronald Jacques outside Jillian’s nightclub in the Metreon before fleeing in a red, white and blue limousine. Jurors deliberated more than three days before acquitting the Oakland resident of murder and assault with a firearm. The murder charge carried a gun enhancement and Stroman faced life in prison if convicted.
Evidence presented during the trial pointed to another man as the shooter, said Stroman’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Peter Fitzpatrick.
“When it came to Mr. Stroman, there was no reliable evidence that hadn’t been tampered with or destroyed,” Fitzpatrick said. “On the other hand, much of the evidence implicated someone else.”
Stroman, a married father with no criminal record, whose pastor and football coach attested to his peaceful and nonviolent nature, was arrested shortly after Jacque’s fatal shooting on Sept. 16, 2007. As patrons left Jillian’s at 1:40 a.m., a fight broke out involving dozens of men and women. Jacque, a 27-year-old San Francisco resident, was killed when someone opened fire into the crowd. A woman was also injured by gunfire.
Stroman was among seven people who left the area in a stretch SUV limousine painted to look like a race car. Police followed the vehicle and pulled it over in Oakland. Inside, police found the gun used in the killing.
Stroman was charged with the crime, despite conflicting witness statements and gunshot residue found on the hands of another man inside the limo. A nightclub security guard identified the other limo passenger as the shooter and a woman who was shot described a gunman that didn’t match Stroman’s physical description.
During the trial, a San Francisco homicide inspector testified that two colleagues convinced another witness to change his testimony in order to facilitate the prosecution’s theory of the case that Stroman was the shooter, Fitzpatrick said.
Additionally, police who arrested Stroman bagged the hands of additional suspects to preserve possible gunshot residue, but after the men urinated on their hands inside the bags, investigators threw the bags away without testing them.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said the verdict was just.
“It’s a travesty of justice that the police officers in this case influenced a witness to change his testimony to convict an innocent man,” Adachi said.