Thursday, July 10, 2014 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A man facing more than a decade behind bars after police forced him to go to the hospital has been largely acquitted in the grossly overcharged case, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
After deliberating less than two days, a San Francisco jury on Wednesday found Hanai Ibrahim, 40, not guilty of one count of battery on a police officer and four counts of resisting arrest, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender J.P. Visaya. Prosecutors dismissed two more charges mid-trial, assault on a medic and threat to a sheriff’s deputy, due to lack of evidence.
The jury convicted Ibrahim of one count using force to resist a police officer’s duties, one count of resisting arrest, and one count of assault on a medic.
Ibrahim, who is legally blind and mentors young musicians in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, faced more than 10 years for the combined charges. He now faces a maximum of two years in jail when sentenced this Tuesday, Visaya said.
On July 21, 2012, the first generation Palestinian American and Bayview-Hunters Point native began his day with the best intentions: He would continue to fast for Ramadan, a practice he had observed for 15 years. He would also help out in his family’s neighborhood market on Third Street before attending his girlfriend’s birthday party.
At sundown, Ibrahim broke his fast with a bag of chips and a soda before relieving his brother at the store. In anticipation of going to his girlfriend’s party, Ibrahim and his friends enjoyed some cognac and vodka.
With next to nothing in his stomach, the liquor hit Ibrahim hard. When the next clerk came on shift at 10:30 p.m., Ibrahim passed out, collapsing behind the counter. His friends called an ambulance after being unable to revive him.
While in the ambulance, medics were able to rouse Ibrahim with smelling salts. Ibrahim panicked and began tearing off his restraints—a common reaction, medics testified. Medics opened the back of the ambulance for Ibrahim, who exited and fell onto the sidewalk in front of his family’s store. His friends propped him up and assured the medics they would take him to the hospital.
Police, including Officer Perfecto Barbosa, quickly arrived and ordered Ibrahim to come with them. Ibrahim raised his hands in protest and said he did not want to go. Barbosa testified that Ibrahim kicked him, however, testimony from medics contradicted the officer’s story and nobody else witnessed the kick, Visaya said.
Two officers forced Ibrahim to the ground, while another officer hit Ibrahim five to 10 times with a baton, claiming he was resisting. Medics who then transported Ibrahim to the hospital testified he was docile.
While being treated for alcohol intoxication, Ibrahim’s troubles began anew. After being escorted to the bathroom to vomit, he passed out on the floor. Nurses called sheriff’s deputies, who provide security at San Francisco General Hospital. One of the three responding deputies began shoving his foot into Ibrahim’s body as he lay on the ground, ordering him to get up. As Ibrahim rose and dressed, the same deputy stood over him, telling him to get out of the hospital, despite Ibrahim not having been discharged.
As Ibrahim was escorted from the hospital, he muttered that the deputy would not have gotten away with treating him so poorly if he did not have a badge and a gun. The deputy then informed him he was under arrest and slammed him face-first into a gurney and shoved his knee into Ibrahim’s back, according to the only deputy to testify.
Ibrahim was cited for battery on an officer and released. When he subsequently came to court for his arraignment, the case was dismissed. One month later, the district attorney filed a slew of charges in the incident.
“Mr. Ibrahim’s case demonstrates how prosecutors try to force people to plead guilty by stacking charges upon charges with little evidence to support them,” Visaya said. “Mr. Ibrahim would not be intimidated into a plea deal because he knew he was not guilty.”
Adachi said the case was outrageously overcharged.
“To look at the avalanche of charges, one would believe Mr. Ibrahim went on a citywide crime spree. Nothing about his conduct warranted this heavy-handed prosecution, nor did it deserve the force shown by police and deputies,” Adachi said. “Thanks to the hard work of his public defender and a conscientious jury who judged the evidence independently, Mr. Ibrahim was saved from an unjust and unfair conviction.”