Noe Valley Voice April 1999

Police Beat: Suspects at Large in Two Muggings

By Officer Lois Perillo

The robbery count in my part of Noe Valley dipped to two in February, down from four in January. The number logged for all of Mission Station -- which covers the Mission and the Castro, as well as the northern half of Noe Valley -- was 23.

It's clear that Noe Valley is among the safest neighborhoods in the city. Still, the two robberies that happened in February were disturbing in that they involved physical assaults.

On Monday, Feb. 1, at 8:10 a.m., a 26-year-old man exiting a Muni bus at 24th and Douglass was beaten and robbed by four males who had followed him off the bus. The first of the four (who all appeared to be in their late teens) asked the man, "Do you know me?" When the man said no, the suspect grabbed him around the neck and punched him in the face until he fell to the ground. The other three thieves then kicked him and stole money and a cell phone from his pockets. The four suspects then fled east on 24th Street.

Officers Sandy Ganster and Stephanie White responded to the call and searched the area in their patrol car, accompanied by the man who'd been robbed. However, they were unable to locate the suspects.

The second robbery occurred Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 9:55 p.m. A 40-year-old man, walking on 20th Street toward Douglass, noticed a 1995 or older silver Ford Taurus station wagon speed past him, then park on Seward near Douglass. Three men, 18 to 21 years old, then jumped out and ran over to him. The tallest suspect (6819, 160 lbs.) pointed a silver revolver and demanded the man's wallet, while the other two (5869 or so) surrounded him.

After the man gave up his wallet, the tall suspect shoved him and struck him in the head, causing a laceration. The muggers then ran back to the Taurus and fled north on Douglass toward Market. An independent witness confirmed the vehicle's description, and also noted that the station wagon's right brake light was out.

Now, all we need to do is nab them.

'Jim' the Solicitor Busted

The con man and suspected burglar known as "Jim," whom I told you about in the last two Voices, was arrested on March 14 at 4:15 p.m., after a resident of the 800 block of Guerrero called police. Officers Alex Medina and Ray Lee responded and found "Jim," whose real name is Joseph C. Lawrence, in the middle of a second con on Liberty Street.

After an investigation, the officers learned that the Guerrero Street resident had been scammed by Lawrence a month earlier. So, when the resident saw Lawrence talking to a neighbor on his block, he decided to tip off police. It turned out that the neighbor had been about to write Lawrence a check for "my daughter's athletic team," but became suspicious and closed the door when Lawrence was unable to offer a receipt.

Lawrence then walked to Liberty Street, where he approached a woman and told her he was an ex-police officer. The woman was on the verge of giving the impostor a donation when the police arrived and took him into custody.

Lawrence was booked on a charge of obtaining money under false pretenses, and Inspector Mark Sullivan of the Burglary Detail was notified. Although Lawrence was sent to County Jail, he was released and cited to appear in court.

Thus, he may attempt to solicit money under false pretenses again. If he shows up at your door, call Police Dispatch at 553-0123, and then me at 558-5404.

Double Robber Sentenced

A man implicated in two robberies (in October 1997 and February 1998) pled guilty to second-degree robbery on March 11. He was sentenced to one year of a court-approved live-in treatment program and four years of felony probation. This was in addition to the 13 months he'd spent in County Jail awaiting the case's final disposition.

As reported in previous Voice editions, the October '97 case occurred at a laundromat near 22nd and Fair Oaks, and the February '98 case happened near 24th and Vicksburg.

A Heck of a Misunderstanding

A disagreement between two men in the 24th Street public parking lot next to Rite Aid led to a scuffle on Thursday, Feb. 18, at about 6 p.m. The men, in their 40s, cursed at and assaulted each other, and one vandalized the other's car by "keying" it.

The incident began when one man was waiting in the handicapped parking space for a legal spot to open and another man whose vehicle displayed a disabled parking permit entered the lot. The first man waved the second man through, with the intent of pulling out of the handicapped space. The second man misinterpreted the gesture, so he blocked the first man's car and refused to move. When the first man objected, the second man scraped his key across his car, causing a scratch in the paint. The first man reacted by knocking down the second man.

Responding officers Victor Silveira and Ray Salvador made a police report, but both men declined to press charges.

What Was She Thinking? Part 2

The 45-year-old Noe Street resident who was arrested last August for vandalizing a local bar, punching bar patrons, and assaulting a police officer, failed to make her February court appearance. The judge issued a $10,000 warrant for her arrest.

On March 12, the defendant's attorney asked the judge to rescind the warrant. However, because the defendant was not present during the motion, the judge refused. The $10,000 warrant stands.

My Case Is Closed

State law provides that all victims of violence have an opportunity to address the court before the defendant is sentenced, and on Jan. 29 I exercised my right.

I stood before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dean Beaupre to recommend a sentence for the woman who assaulted me in Oakland last June 10. (I described the incident, in which a Vallejo woman kicked me and then drove her car into me and my partner's dog, Kishi, in the July/August 1998 Voice.)

Next to me was Deputy District Attorney Kevin Dunleavy, and a few feet to my right was the defendant.

I began speaking, and by my second sentence, the defendant had moved as far away from me as possible. Nevertheless, the judge's eyes remained firmly on me for my entire two-minute address. In the course of almost 15 years of testifying, I have never experienced such rapt attention from the bench.

After I finished, Judge Beaupre expressed concern that the D.A.'s office had not kept me apprised of the case, for it appeared to him that I was unaware of the deal that had been struck: The defendant was to receive five years' probation. Upon hearing my statement, the judge wanted to ponder the matter further. "I would like to take a week to come up with a sentence I can live with," he said.

I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. By making my statement, I had taken back my power. The judge's thoughtful response was an extra bonus.

Two weeks later, my partner Heather and I returned to court for the sentencing. So did the defendant, who pled guilty to a felony count of assault with a deadly weapon. The judge then sentenced her to 30 days in the Sheriff's Work Alternative Program (SWAP), with credit for the nine days she'd served in jail in July. The judge added 12 anger management sessions and five years' felony probation, to be reduced to a misdemeanor and terminated if her behavior produced "perfect" probation reports.

At that point, the defendant asked to do her SWAP time and anger management sessions with a man who had accompanied her to the court, a representative from the Fisher Foundation. (I later found out that the Fisher Foundation runs a drug treatment program in Oakland.)

The judge told her, "I don't believe the sheriff will go for that. Be prepared to be cleaning the streets and washing police cars." He then said he would let the Oakland Probation Department handle the issue, and the court session was over. (The probation officer later assured me that the defendant would not be directing her own programs.)

Meanwhile, I sent in Kishi's veterinary bills and the cost of my sick time to Oakland Probation for restitution. I also am attempting to recover something from the City of San Francisco, specifically the time I needed to heal from this assault.

The city attorney is reviewing my case, and I am hopeful that my lost sick time will be restored. After all, I am sworn to serve and protect, and I need to know that when I take action to protect others or myself, my city will support me if I'm hurt. As a police officer, I know that nothing is worse than not getting backup. Nothing.

Here's to Dike, Greek goddess of divine justice. May she smile upon us.

Until next month, be safe and I'll see you on patrol.

San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers her Noe Valley beat-- from Valencia to Grand View and 21st to Cesar Chavez -- on foot and on bicycle. If you would like to discuss a problem, call her at 558-5404, the community policing line at Mission Station.