District attorney decides not to charge driver with hit-and-run of homeless man

Audrey McNamara/File

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On Tuesday, District Attorney of Alameda County Nancy O’Malley declined to charge a driver who ran over a person lying on the sidewalk during a protest near People’s Park on Jan. 22, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

According to a January email from Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Byron White, during a march against the development of People’s Park in January, a car was surrounded by a crowd that began “pushing/banging on the vehicle.” According to the email, the car drove onto the sidewalk on Durant Avenue, running over a bicycle and a person lying on the sidewalk.

According to White’s email, the person lying on the sidewalk, confirmed to be a 55-year-old homeless man, was taken to a local hospital for an injured leg, and the driver, a 21-year-old Berkeley man, was contacted and cooperated with investigators.

On Tuesday, the DA’s office decided not to charge the driver with a hit-and-run, citing lack of evidence, according to Berkeleyside.

James McFadden, a researcher at UC Berkeley, said there was a recording of the event and said he had concerns regarding the decision to not charge the driver.

“Why is there insufficient evidence when there’s a video of it?” McFadden said.

When asked about the incident, Assistant District Attorney Teresa Drenick said in an email that in order to charge a person with a criminal offense, the office has to believe that they can “prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“In this matter, we conducted a thorough review of the evidence and declined to file charges,” Drenick said in an email.

BPD declined to provide further comment on the incident.

Contact Ben Klein at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @BenKlein_dc‏.