FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 17, 2024
MEDIA CONTACT: PDR-MediaRelations@sfgov.org
SF Jury Acquits Young Black Man Who Was Racially Profiled and Falsely Accused
SAN FRANCISCO – On Jan. 11, a San Francisco jury acquitted Trevon Morgan, 21, after just 45 minutes of deliberations, of a baseless felony charge of attempted robbery of a man’s reading glasses. Morgan, who lost his job as a security guard while awaiting trial for five months, had gotten into a verbal argument with a man who was yelling racial slurs at him when a bystander inserted himself into the argument to side with the other man. The bystander then called the police and claimed that Morgan had threatened him and his property, which was not corroborated by any evidence.
“The allegations in this case were reminiscent of other “Karen” cases where someone called the police on a Black person who had done nothing wrong. Here, the complaining witness racially profiled Mr. Morgan, who is Black, assumed the worst about him and falsely accused him of wrongdoing based on the color of his skin,” said Deputy Public Defender Ilona Yañez, who represented Morgan. “Police and prosecutors pursued this case without any corroborating evidence of a crime, despite the numerous glaring red flags as to the complaining witness’s credibility, and in so doing perpetuated this vigilante’s racism.”
On the morning of August 24, 2023, Morgan was walking to a store near his home in the inner Sunset District when a person who appeared to be unhoused and mentally ill started yelling racial slurs and following him. The harassment continued after Morgan came out of the store, and it turned into a verbal argument. That’s when a bystander, who is white, drove up alongside them and took the side of the white man who had been yelling at Morgan. The bystander called the police and claimed that Morgan threatened to kill him and rob him, and that Morgan dented his car. None of this was true or supported by evidence. Body-worn camera footage from one of the responding officers showed that even the officer expressed skepticism about the bystander’s claims and that the man admitted that the damage to his car predated the incident when confronted by the officer.
Nevertheless, police arrested Morgan based on these false accusations, the District Attorney’s Office charged Morgan with felony attempted robbery of the bystander’s reading glasses, and a judge only agreed to release him from custody if he agreed to wear an ankle monitor and be subject to home detention. Due to the pending felony charges, Morgan lost his job as a security guard and was not able to provide for his pregnant girlfriend during that time.
“When prosecutors bring charges and are unwilling to look at the merit of the evidence, it is severely damaging to the accused and a waste of public resources,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju. “I appreciate our defense team’s unwavering advocacy of Mr. Morgan and thank the jury for returning a just verdict.”