San Francisco, CA – Omeed Aziz Popal, 30, pled not guilty by reason of insanity today at the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street. Popal is facing attempted murder charges in connection with a series of alleged hit-and-run incidents that injured sixteen people in San Francisco on August 29, 2006.
Popal, who suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and auditory command hallucinations, has been receiving psychiatric treatment in jail since his arrest last year. Within six months prior to his arrest, Popal suffered two psychiatric breakdowns resulting in hospitalization and involuntarily commitments.
Popal’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sandy Feinland, says he expects the trial to go forward this summer. “Unfortunately, this is a tragedy that could have been avoided. We all need to be better educated about mental illness, how to spot the warning signs, and how to get afflicted people the help they need,” Feinland said.
The mission of the Public Defender’s office is to provide vigorous, effective, competent and ethical legal representation to persons who are accused of crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney. Established in 1921, the San Francisco Public Defender has a long, proud history of providing top-notch representation to its clients, and championing programs that help people turn their lives around.