Cameras exonerate men in robbery

Robbery and assault charges against two men have been dropped after San Francisco police surveillance cameras proved they were two streets away from the robbery when it occurred, according to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.

Neil Butler, 23, and Robert Dillon, 21, were arrested Aug. 6 after police responded to reports of a robbery at the corner of 14th and Mission streets. Police patrols spotted the two men at the corner of 16th and Mission streets shortly after the robbery and arrested them on suspicion of robbery.

Butler and Dillon were positively identified by the robbery victims, according to the public defender’s office, and were booked on charges of robbery and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm.

During Butler’s primary court appearance, a witness told deputy public defender Eric Quant that she had been with Butler at the time of the robbery and that surveillance cameras at 16th and Mission streets could prove this. Quant requested copies of the tapes but was denied because city policy restricts their release.

According to the public defender’s office, Quant was informed that all tapes are erased after seven days. He requested that the Department of Emergency Management, which is in charge of the tapes, keep the footage pending a formal request.

The videotapes were reviewed and showed that Butler and Dillon were at the corner of 16th and Mission streets at the time of the robbery. Charges for both men were dropped Oct. 16. Both men were imprisoned for 69 days before being released.

Public defender Jeff Adachi issued a statement in which he said he is concerned about The City’s policy of destroying crime tapes after seven days and not making them available to defense attorneys.

— Bay City News

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