Tuesday, December 11, 2012 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A 50-year-old man was acquitted of a Castro Street battery after footage of the confrontation revealed he acted in self defense while cornered and intimidated by two men, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Jurors deliberated less than two hours Monday afternoon before finding David “Rosie” Clark of San Francisco not guilty of battery, assault and driving under the influence.
Clark’s trouble began the afternoon of Aug. 27 while socializing at the bar 440 Castro, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Erin Haney. Sitting at the bar were two regular patrons who disliked Clark, Haney said. When Clark began chatting with a friend sitting near the pair, they accused him of purposefully trying to annoy them and an argument ensued.
Not wanting to continue the argument, Clark left the bar, but the men followed him outside, Haney said. A cell phone video that captured the confrontation showed the two men cornering Clark, one of them shoving his fingers in Clark’s face.
Clark tried to de-escalate the situation by walking to a nearby pizzeria, but the men continued to follow him down Castro Street, hurling insults and bumping into him twice, the footage showed. The men then cornered him a second time, one stepping in front of him and the other blocking him from the side. Clark felt something hit his cheek and believed one of the men spat on him, he testified.
“Mr. Clark was outnumbered and clearly the weakest of the bunch but at that point he felt certain he was going to be physically attacked,” Haney said.
Clark, who had never before been in a physical fight, said that he closed his eyes and swung. Video footage showed Clark’s single punch connected with one of the men. Both men then grabbed him as onlookers intervened. After being separated, one of the men then rushed at Clark, punching him several times in the face and neck.
None of the men was injured in the confrontation.
Meanwhile, Clark told his designated driver, who had driven Clark’s to the front of the bar, that he could leave while Clark waited for the police. Responding officers, who found Clark waiting with his car, arrested him for driving under the influence.
Both complaining witnesses testified at the trial, telling stories that vastly contradicted the cell phone footage.
“It’s really easy when people get on the stand to take them at their word. When the jurors saw the video, however, they realized not everyone told the truth,” Haney said.
Clark also took the stand, testifying that he was so frightened that he was trembling during the confrontation.
One juror became tearful during closing arguments, Haney said.
“Mr. Clark was picked on. He was cornered and bullied by these men. And then after that tragic ordeal, he was further traumatized by being falsely accused of these crimes. Rather than protecting him, our government picked on him the way those two men had. Luckily, the jury stepped in to stop it,” Haney said.
Adachi said justice was served in the case.
“Mr. Clark had every right to defend himself against what appeared to be an impending attack by two men,” Adachi said. “Thankfully, the cell phone video proved to be an extremely reliable witness.”