Noe Valley Voice December-January 1997-98

Police Beat: Robbery Victims Keep Their Wits About Them

By Officer Lois Perillo

There were two robberies and one attempted robbery reported within my Noe Valley beat in October -- about the same as in September. But the first involved a disturbing new twist: pepper spray.

On Oct. 13, a few minutes before 2 p.m., two 15-year-old boys approached another youth of the same age who was walking with his brother, a 32-year-old man, at 26th and Diamond streets. The two boys demanded money. When the older man refused, one teen sprayed him with pepper spray, then unsuccessfully tried to spray the man's younger brother before running away east on 26th Street. The Fire Department responded with paramedics who flushed the older man's eyes.

In the second robbery, on Oct. 20, also around 2 p.m., a 32-year-old woman was robbed of cash by a man who exposed himself to her at the 23rd and Dolores Street laundromat. The suspect cornered her between a clothes-folding table and the machines. He told her he intended to find a job as a male stripper, then exposed himself and ordered her to touch him. She refused, and the suspect then demanded money. To her great credit, the woman remained calm, gave the man money, and then said, "We're going to leave now," while walking toward the door. The suspect followed, then ran east on 23rd Street.

Nine days later, the suspect was captured by sheriff's deputies after the wom-an spotted him at 24th and Guerrero and called police. The woman positively identified her assailant, who was charged with robbery and indecent exposure. The 19-year-old man, a resident of Northridge Street in the Bayview District, remains in custody pending his court appearance.

Although all involved in this incident would have been better off had it not occurred, I must commend the woman for her clear thinking, her effective response, and her courage under stress. She also wrote an excellent statement. Go, girl!

In the last robbery of the month, an 11-year-old boy reported that on Oct. 28 at 7:40 a.m., near 24th and Sanchez streets, he was robbed of 35 cents by another boy who was wearing a ski mask. The boy made the report from his home about five hours after the incident, and could not provide details. When contacted by police, the boy's father said he doubted the robbery occurred. He indicated that his son had probably made up the incident because he had cut school that day.

The Sad Face of Domestic Violence

On Oct. 5 at 3:20 p.m., a 20-year-old woman was assaulted by her 22-year-old boyfriend while at his house on the 4200 block of 23rd Street. The man reportedly slammed the woman's wrist in the shower door, then pushed her down eight stairs.

When I responded to the call, I found the woman outside, being comforted by a friend. She was very upset and declined medical aid. The suspect had fled.

The woman's mother arrived, and I informed her of the resources available to victims of violent crime. Then I obtained an emergency protective order that prohibited the suspect from contacting the woman, pending a court hearing.

The following day, the suspect and his father contacted me, and the order was served. The case was assigned to the Domestic Violence Unit for follow-up.

Four days later, on Oct. 9 at 5 a.m., another incident of domestic violence occurred just one block up 23rd Street. The grown son of a 56-year-old terminally-ill woman called to report that his mother had been assaulted by her 51-year-old live-in boyfriend. The son told police that he was so convinced of the ongoing nature of the abuse, he had moved his moth-er to his own house.

Officer Russell Gordon located the suspect at his house, seized his handgun, arrested him on felony assault charges, and served him with a restraining order issued by Judge Smith. The suspect was booked at Mission Station, and the district attorney added a charge of cruelty toward a dependent adult. The suspect was released on his own recognizance, pending his court date.

In the last incident on my watch during October, a 20-year-old woman and resident of the 4200 block of 24th Street was assaulted by her 21-year-old husband, who threw her to the bed, held her down, and hit her in the face, in front of their 15-month-old baby and the woman's mother. Officer Steve Mulkeen arrested the man on assault charges and served him with a protective order issued by Judge Hitchens. The suspect was booked at Mission Station and sent to County Jail, where he posted bond and was released pending his court appearance.

When a Prayer Is a Crime

A 35-year-old resident of the 400 block of 27th Street, who was involved in a payment dispute at Noe Valley Pizza at 7 p.m. Oct. 28, was charged with a felony after he told responding officers Pam Wanek and Jim Escobar, "I am praying for your early deaths. I might just put a stray bullet in your heads."

The district attorney later reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and added two additional misdemeanor counts. The suspect was routed to County Jail and released on his own recognizance. When he failed to appear at his court date, the judge issued a $20,000 warrant for his arrest.

Run-in with Mr. Burnt Orange Hair

The night of Oct. 24 was dark and windy. At around 7 p.m., as I rode my bicycle west on 24th Street between Noe and Castro, I spotted someone in the shadows under the trees -- sprawled all over Doc McFadden's geraniums. Then my headlight shone on his face: It was Mr. Burnt Orange Hair.

I'd seen this guy before, on Valencia Street about a year earlier. He was just this side of reality and had been arrested for committing a lewd act.

Okay, I knew I had to approach him, so I advised my dispatcher. But no sooner had I said, "Hi, time to get off the flowers," then he jumped from his spot and swung at me. I dodged the blow, grabbed his arm, and we danced -- very ungracefully. (My ballet teacher would have been appalled.)

I called over the radio for backup units and tried my best to verbally calm this guy, who was repeatedly yelling, "I didn't do nothing!" Finally, I persuaded him to sit down on Small Frys' bench, where he stayed only a short time before leaping up and taking another swing at me.

At that point, two passersby assisted me by blocking Mr. Burnt Orange Hair's path. Kudos to my junior deputies. Moments later, backup units arrived with sirens and lights flashing. I find it truly amazing how the sight of multiple officers can bring about compliance from even the most irrational, combative person.

Mr. Burnt Orange Hair, after assaulting one other officer, was cuffed without further struggle.

As for the comment made by an onlooker -- "How many of you does it take to arrest one man?" -- which implied that the SFPD was overreacting, my response is: Does it really matter? If a combative subject will stop resisting merely because he can see that he is outnumbered, why take issue with the use of backup? Those blaring sirens may have offended some people, but they were music to my ears.

The suspect was charged with misdemeanor assault and released on his own recognizance. But he failed to make his November court date, and a bench warrant was issued. In addition, on Nov. 18, the suspect was again brought to Mission Station. This time, he was accused of threatening people with a fake gun, on Castro near 19th Street.

Currently he is in jail, where his burnt orange hair, appropriately enough, matches his all-orange attire.

Two 'Dispos' on Year-Old Cases

After a year of court wrangling, the 52-year-old cab driver accused of the attempted murder of two men outside the Dubliner bar in October 1996 pled guilty to assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to six days in jail, three years of probation, and a stay-away order prohibiting him from approaching the targeted men.

The 36-year-old woman and resident of the 4200 block of 23rd Street who assaulted her family members in November 1996 and who had an underlying substance abuse problem, successfully completed diversion and counseling, and all charges were dismissed. Congratulations!

Reunion in Texas

I am back from my week-long training conference in Dallas, sponsored by the International Association of Women Police. This year's classes were especially dynamic, covering such topics as profiling subjects, court testimony, and response to terrorist acts.

More than 750 women attended from around the world. I renewed bonds with my friends from England, Canada, and almost all the states. I roomed with a good buddy who works to unseat organized crime in Russia.

Unfortunately, the hotel was pretty far removed from everything, except a health club, where I swam away stress instead of bicycling. But I did get into downtown Dallas to visit the Sixth Floor Museum housed within the former Texas Book Depository -- the alleged site used by Lee Harvey Oswald to gun down J.F.K. The museum presented a comprehensive multimedia exhibit. After one film, I was hard pressed to exit with dry eyes. Next year's conference will be in Anchorage, Alaska.

As the winter solstice approaches, let's watch out for one another. Be safe and I'll see you on patrol. Happy 1998! M

San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers her Noe Valley beat by foot and by bicycle. Her turf extends from 21st Street south to Cesar Chavez, and from Valencia west to Grand View. If you would like to report a problem, call 558-5404. (For emergencies, dial 911.) Or to file a police report, stop by Mission Police Station at 630 Valencia St. near 17th.