An off-duty San Francisco police officer who gained fame on social media should have stayed at the scene of a 2015 North Beach collision in which two pedestrians were injured instead of fleeing, prosecutors argued Wednesday in closing arguments in the hit-and-run trial of Officer Christopher Kohrs.
But because of his online fame, a crowd gathered and yelled epithets and made violent threats toward Kohrs, prompting him to run from the scene out of fear for his life, Kohrs’ defense attorney Peter Furst countered in his closing statements.
Kohrs is charged with one count of felony hit-and-run with injury and another count of felony hit-and-run with permanent, serious injury for the Nov. 29, 2015 collision, which occurred around 2:20 a.m. near the corner of Broadway and Montgomery Street.
Kohrs, driving an orange 2009 Dodge Charger, was traveling with his brother and a friend, identified as Norman Banks. The trio had just left a bar.
SEE RELATED: Hit and run trial begins for Castro’s ‘Hot Cop’
Earlier in the case, Banks testified that Kohrs was the designated driver and that he appeared sober and seemed to be going at a reasonable speed at the time of the collision.
After striking the two men, who were crossing within the crosswalk, the men were thrown onto the roadway. A crowd then gathered and, after recognizing Kohrs, began yelling “Hot Cop,” a moniker he was given on social media.
Furst argued that the crowd was threatening Kohrs with physical violence and although he checked on one of the victims, he fled out of necessity.
“The notion that a police officer who is off-duty, who is not armed, can pull out a badge and say ‘Stop, I’m a police officer’ is ridiculous,” Furst said. “I’m arguing that under the circumstances, he did the most he could.”
Kohrs has testified that he delegated the tasks of checking on the victims and calling police to his brother, Nathan Kohrs.
“This is about duty,” prosecutor Rolando Mazariegos said, arguing that Christopher Kohrs fled the scene in order to avoid a blood alcohol test and left the victims for dead.
One victim suffered a missing tooth, a broken jaw, a fractured ankle, and an injured shoulder ligament, while the other suffered a broken nose, a broken eye socket, a broken neck, a brain hemorrhage, a spinal fracture and memory impairment, Mazariegos said.
Kohrs turned himself in at police headquarters around 10 a.m. that day, after he was identified by investigators as the registered owner and driver of the Dodge Charger left at the scene.
Kohrs had gained social media fame as the “Hot Cop of the Castro” following his time spent patrolling the Castro District and participating in events such as the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Big Gay 10K race.
Last March, Kohrs settled a civil lawsuit filed against him by one of the victims.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations Thursday.
-Daniel Montes, Bay City News
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