San Francisco, CA – The felony case against DeAndre Barney was dismissed on July 10, 2008 after he was proven factually innocent of armed robbery based on San Francisco community safety camera evidence. Video footage showed that the car Barney was driving was not the getaway car, as alleged by police. Barney was represented by Deputy Public Defender Randall Martin.
On May 22, 2008, two young men robbed a store on Haight Street between Webster and Fillmore. According to the police affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, a community safety camera showed the robbers getting out of a light-colored car before the robbery and fleeing in the same car at 15:02:07 hrs. The affidavit states that the license plate of the getaway car was photographed at the corner of Haight and Webster at 15:02:17 hrs.
Barney’s DMV photo was placed in a photo lineup and he was identified by the victim as looking like one of the robbers. The police obtained a warrant and arrested Barney on June 25, 2008.
Deputy Public Defender Martin obtained and reviewed the community safety camera footage. Contrary to the police affidavit, the tapes showed that the robbers actually left the scene in their light-colored car at 14:58:13 – four minutes before the license plate photo was taken. More importantly, the footage showed that Barney’s photographed license plate, which formed the basis for his arrest, was on a different light-colored car than that driven by the robbers.
According to Deputy Public Defender Martin, “My client was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was wrongly identified as a perpetrator, and the inspector submitted a false affidavit regarding the timing of events shown on the videos. If it weren’t for the community safety camera video, my client might very well have been convicted of armed robbery.”
The District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against Barney after verifying the community safety camera footage presented to them by Deputy Public Defender Martin.
According to Public Defender Jeff Adachi, “This case comes out of the storyline of the movie, “My Cousin Vinny,” where one car driven by an innocent man is mistaken for another similar car belonging to the robber. It’s a classic case of why circumstantial evidence can’t always be trusted.”
Adachi noted that this was the second case in the last 12 months where an innocent person was exonerated by evidence obtained by the city’s surveillance cameras.
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.