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

Second grader Genesis Ulloa leads students in an after-school community hub in a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF parents face school year with hope, trepidation and concern

‘Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it’

Health care workers in the intensive care unit at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, with Alejandro Balderas, a 44-year-old patient who later died. Even in California, a state with a coronavirus vaccination rate well above average, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly doubled in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. (Isadora Kosofsky/The New York Times)
Why COVID took off in California, again

‘The good news is: The vaccines are working’

Lake Oroville stood at 33 percent full and 40 percent of historical average when this photograph was taken on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Tribune News Service)
A kayaker on the water at Lake Oroville, which stands at 33 percent full and 40 percent of historical average when this photograph was taken on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Oroville, Calif. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Tribune News Service)
Facing ‘dire water shortages,’ California bans Delta pumping

By Rachel Becker CalMatters In an aggressive move to address “immediate and… Continue reading

Most Read