FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2021
CONTACT: SF Public Defender’s Office | PubDef-MediaRelations@sfgov.org | (628) 249-7946
SF Jury Acquits Man Who Called 911 After Arguing with an Aggressive Repair Shop Owner
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, a San Francisco jury acquitted a man (whose name we are omitting by request) on charges stemming from an argument he had with an aggressive owner of a car repair shop. Deputy Public Defender Alexa Horner represented the accused customer and showed the jury video surveillance of the encounter in which the shop owner showed verbal and physical aggression toward her client who ended up pushing the owner away in self-defense.
“Although the video surveillance has no audio, the body language clearly shows why my client felt threatened,” said Ms. Horner. “We are relieved that the jury used their common sense and followed the law to find him not guilty by virtue of self-defense.”
In April 2021, Ms. Horner’s client, a customer of the repair shop, experienced some problems with a car part that the repair shop had installed previously. When the customer returned to the shop to address the matter, he found himself talking to the owner who was on the other side of a plexiglass divider. The surveillance video showed the owner flailing his arms, waving the work order, and pounding his fists on the counter, all while the customer stood calmly on the other side. At one point, the owner appeared to push the plexiglass so hard that it bent forward and hit the brim of the customer’s hat, so the customer put up his hands to push it away. At that point, the owner came around the counter with his hands raised, and the customer pushed the owner once in an act of self-defense.
Ms. Horner’s client, who had never been arrested before, was charged with assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, battery, and elder abuse because the man he pushed is over 65 years old — although there was no way for the customer to have known his age. There was also no evidence of great bodily injury resulting from the push.
The accused man’s statements and testimony remained consistent with the evidence, and the defense called character witnesses who spoke to his non-violent and honest nature. In contrast, when the shop owner testified, he made statements that were in direct conflict with the evidence.
“Our defense team worked skillfully to uncover what really happened in this situation and present it to the jury,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju. “I am grateful that this man got his day in court and proud of the strong representation that Ms. Horner and her team provided.”
The defense team included San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Alexa Horner, Investigator Terry Collins, Paralegal Susan Larsen, and Intern Jonathan Ibarra-Paz. Video Expert Paul Endo enhanced the original surveillance video that the defense team presented in court.