Alleged thief might have been choked

An alleged shoplifter injured and reportedly choked into unconsciousness by two Safeway security guards in Redwood City was in court Tuesday for felony charges that could land him in jail for life.

George Darron Pirtle, 38, faces a charge of burglary and a charge of petty theft with a prior. With prior convictions for residential burglary and robbery, Pirtle’s alleged theft of $42.90 worth of liquor constitutes a three-strikes case.

At the preliminary hearing, police Officer Evan Paraskevopoulos described arriving at Safeway on April 2 to investigate a shoplifting call. He testified that two security guards told him they had confronted Pirtle outside Safeway after watching him take a bottle of gin and a bottle of rum.

Paraskevopoulos said the security guards told him upon his arrival that Pirtle had placed the bottles on the ground before they tried to handcuff him. The guards explained that Pirtle resisted and they then wrestled him to the ground, Paraskevopoulos’ testified. During the struggle, Pirtle appeared to have lost consciousness and urinated on himself, but was conscious by the time Paraskevopoulos arrived, he said.

Paraskevopoulos said he questioned the security guards about the struggle, and one of them said he didn’t think he choked Pirtle, but that if he did, it was because his arm was unintentionally across his neck.

“I was curious why he did that, if it had been a move he had been taught,” Paraskevopoulos testified “It’s something I’ve been taught and I take very seriously. He said it wasn’t anything he had learned.”

Pirtle was treated at the hospital for a broken finger and pain in his neck before being booked into jail.

Neither security guard is facing charges in the incident.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said guards are allowed to use force if someone is resisting during a citizen’s arrest.

Wagstaffe said prosecutors aren’t likely to seek the maximum sentence of life in prison since Pirtle’s crimes were nonviolent.

tbarak@examiner.com  

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Plummeting Bay Area bridge traffic finally levels off

All told, weekday Bay Area traffic volumes are down by half, which has remained consistent from March 23 through this week.

Second deputy at SF Hall of Justice jail tests positive as inmate count shrinks

Doctor says inmate count needs to fall further to mitigate potential outbreak

Breed pushes volunteer opportunities to help isolated seniors as coronavirus spreads

Seniors and those living with disabilities are most susceptible to severe impacts of the coronavirus and are advised to remain home.

Confusion swirls over uneven eviction protections as rent collection begins

Housing advocates warn some type of rental assistance or forgiveness will be necessary

National Guard sets up hospital beds at San Mateo County Event Center

The triage center is intended as backup if COVID-19 cases surge in the coming weeks

Most Read