Cheap Beer Helps S.F. Man Escape Injury, Jail Time
A San Francisco football fan accused of hurling two 40-ounce bottles of Miller High Life at a convenience store clerk was acquitted after video showed he was merely defending himself -- from a glass of water and a bat. Jurors deliberated for about an hour on Monday before deciding that 54-year-old Pablo Rodriguez was not guilty.
Rodriguez, a neighborhood activist, was arrested Nov. 19, 2012, after spending the evening hanging out with friends at a Valencia Street bus stop, drinking beer, and watching Monday night football through the window of a nearby restaurant.
According to the Public Defender's Office, Rodriguez and his friend went for a beer run at a convenience store on 24th and Valencia streets. As they were leaving, a friend of the clerk blocked their path, instigating an argument, which occurred in Spanish. As Rodriguez left, the clerk called him a "troublemaker." Rodriguez, who obviously disagreed with this characterization, returned briefly to explain himself.
The clerk, clearly uninterested in Rodriguez's side of the story, grabbed a bat from behind the counter and followed Rodriguez outside, with the weapon in hand.
The clerk came back inside the store and Rodriguez's friend attempted to follow him inside. According to his attorneys, Rodriguez physically restrained his friend from going inside the store. Then the clerk approached and threw a cup of water in Rodriguez's eyes.
Rodriguez returned the liquid by throwing one of his 40-ounce bottles of Miller High Life at the clerk, who dodged the bottle and pursued Rodriguez with the bat. Rodriguez hurled his second bottle at the clerk, who blocked it with his hand; he suffered a small scrape.
The pissed-off clerk then began swinging the bat at Rodriguez, who held his backpack up as a shield. Rodriguez was hit on the hand, suffering a minor injury.
Rodriguez left, but returned to the store some two hours later to look for his friend. Instead, he found the clerk, the clerk's friend, and the store owner standing outside the store. They spotted Rodriguez and the group began to argue on the sidewalk.
A cop in the area pulled up and ordered Rodriguez to put his hands behind his head for a search. When the officer grabbed Rodriguez's injured finger, Rodriguez fell onto his side, bringing the officer down with him, according to the Public Defender's Office.
The store employee told police that Rodriguez refused to leave and then threw beers at him in an unprovoked attack. He failed to mention that he had assaulted Rodriguez with a cup of water and a bat.
However, in the one-day trial, jurors saw surveillance video that contradicted the clerk's story. The clerk then changed his story on the stand, telling jurors that Rodriguez came in hurling racial slurs. The clerk testified that he called Rodriguez back into the store to discuss his "hurt feelings."
But the jury wasn't buying it.
"The clerk's story that Mr. Rodriguez was a menace who wouldn't leave the store crumbled on the stand." said Deputy Public Defender Carmen Aguirre. "It is frightening to think of what would have happened to Mr. Rodriguez without video evidence and jurors who were willing to hear him."
We're guessing Rodriguez is out celebrating, with a six-pack of Miller High Life, no less.