San Francisco, CA— A man accused of spitting in a parking enforcement officer’s face was acquitted by a San Francisco jury Thursday afternoon.
Ian Atkinson, 29, was found not guilty of battery on a code enforcement officer following a two-day trial. Jurors also found Atkinson not guilty of lesser charges of simple battery and simple assault.
The jury deliberated one day before reaching its verdict.
Atkinson was cited by police Aug. 27, 2009 following an argument with the parking officer on the 600 block of Davis Street near the Embarcadero. The officer was approaching a workman’s truck in her motorized cart when Atkinson and a female co-worker decided to help the truck owner avoid a ticket. Atkinson’s coworker fed the meter while Atkinson approached the officer to explain.
Atkinson’s coworker testified that the officer became furious and immediately began yelling at Atkinson. The officer issued the ticket, and Atkinson admitted to spitting at the back of her vehicle as she drove away.
He testified that the officer abruptly stopped her vehicle, exited and said, “Now I got you” before calling 911 and falsely reporting that Atkinson had spit in her face.
During the trial, the responding police officer testified that he observed spittle on the vehicle’s back window, but not on Atkinson’s face or clothing.
In addition to Atkinson, the parking officer also testified during the trial.
Atkinson’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Gunnar Rosenquist, said the jury’s decision came down to whose testimony was more believable.
“The jury believed my client. The officer’s story just did not come off as truthful on the stand,” Rosenquist said.
Atkinson, a San Francisco native with no criminal record, works as an office manager and is a longtime volunteer with Bay Area youth and Glide Memorial Church.
“This case hung over Mr. Atkinson’s head for five months, and it was all based on a lie. I’m very happy to see his name cleared,” Rosenquist said.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said the verdict was just.
“Nobody is excusing losing your cool and spitting on someone’s vehicle, but the facts of this case proved that was where the conflict ended,” Adachi said.