Charges dropped after surveillance cameras proved
Public defender calls for longer video tape retention
Photo by Luke
By Caitlin Cassady
October 24, 2007
Robbery and assault charges against two men have been dropped
after San Francisco police surveillance cameras proved they were
two streets away from the robbery when it occurred, according
to the San Francisco Public Defender's Office.
Neil Butler, 23, and Robert Dillon, 21, were arrested Aug. 6,
after police responded to reports of a robbery at the corner of
14th and Mission streets. Police patrols spotted both defendants
at the corner of 16th and Mission streets shortly after the robbery
and arrested them on suspicion of robbery.
Butler and Dillon were positively identified by the robbery victims,
according to the public defender's office. They were then booked
for robbery and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm.
During Butler's primary court appearance a witness informed deputy
public defender Eric Quant that she had been with Butler during
the time of the robbery and that surveillance cameras at 16th
and Mission streets could prove this. Quant then requested copies
of the tapes, but was denied because city policy restricts the
release of the tapes.
According to the public defender's office, Quant was informed
that all tapes are erased after seven days. He then requested
that the Department of Emergency Management, which is in charge
of the tapes, not erase them pending a formal request.
The videotapes were reviewed and showed that Butler and Dillon
were at the corner of 16th and Mission streets at the time of
Charges for both men were dropped Oct. 16. Both men were imprisoned
for 69 days before being released.
According to a statement issued by public defender Jeff Adachi,
he is concerned about the city's policy of destroying crime tapes
after seven days, and not making them available to defense attorneys.
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