San Francisco surveillance camera helps solve case of attempted
of 13 year old
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
June 21, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A man accused of shooting a 13-year
old girl in the Alemany housing project on April 27 pleaded not
guilty yesterday in San Francisco Superior Court, according to
a district attorney spokeswoman.
Bennie Powell, 21, was arraigned yesterday with two counts of
attempted murder with gun use allegations and one count of assault
with a firearm, spokeswoman Bilen Mesfin said.
According to police, Powell was identified with the help of images
obtained from a surveillance camera installed less than a year
before. The camera is one of 33 placed throughout the city.
This case will be the first in San Francisco to test the validity
of the camera's footage as evidence in court.
The district attorney's office accuses Powell of pulling out
a gun and firing at a man with whom he and his two companions
were arguing. The shots missed the intended target and struck
an unidentified 13-year-old girl in her upper thigh.
The incident occurred around 5 p.m. in the 900 block of Ellsworth
Street near Alemany Boulevard, according to police.
The girl's injuries were not life threatening.
Police reviewed the footage and picked out Powell's image just
before the shooting took place. The actual shooting, however,
was not caught on tape.
Officers arrested Powell on the evening of June 6 as he and two
others were allegedly trying to steal a car from a rental agency
at San Francisco International Airport.
Police said they were able to identify Powell through witness
interviews and evidence collection, but the camera was the important
key in the investigation.
Politicians, however, have expressed concern over the effect
the cameras may have on communities. With 100 more cameras slated
to be installed throughout the city, the Board of Supervisors
unanimously passed an ordinance June 6 regulating their usage.
Any future surveillance cameras will be subject to a public hearing,
signs will be placed in the vicinity to inform passersby they
are being recorded and the release of footage will be regulated
by strict protocol.
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