A San Francisco man accused of fatally striking two pedestrians after being repeatedly arrested and released while on parole for robbery will face manslaughter charges over the killings, prosecutors said Monday.
Troy McAlister, 45, allegedly struck and killed the pedestrians on New Year’s Eve when he drove a stolen vehicle through a red light near Second and Mission streets in South of Market while under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine, according to authorities. Police allegedly found drugs and a handgun in the car after McAlister fled the scene.
The case has sparked harsh criticism of District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who did not file criminal charges against McAlister when he was arrested on multiple occasions after being released on parole last April. Boudin instead referred the cases to parole officers, who have the power to return him to custody or impose other supervisory measures.
Boudin is now charging McAlister with numerous felonies including two counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in connection with the deaths of Elizabeth Platt, 60, and Hanako Abe, 27.
In a statement Monday, Boudin pledged to hold McAlister accountable and blamed various agencies, including his own, for “failing to intervene effectively.”
“Although of course no one predicted this tragedy, it is true that the Daly City Police, the San Francisco Police, Parole, and my office all could have done things differently, which might have avoided this terrible outcome,” Boudin said.
McAlister allegedly stole the Honda SUV used in the collision two days before the incident from a woman he met on a dating app, according to police records obtained by the San Francisco Examiner.
He also allegedly showed her a pistol at some point before snatching her keys and driving off in the Honda from a parking lot at the Westlake Shopping Center in Daly City last Tuesday.
While the woman reported the theft to the Daly City Police Department, which had identified McAlister as a suspect by last Wednesday, attempts by police to locate and arrest McAlister were unsuccessful.
Daly City police searched for McAlister at addresses connected to his name and also contacted parole, the department said in a statement Monday.
McAlister was initially released on parole for second-degree robbery last April with credit for time served after spending five years in custody.
He has been arrested on at least several occasions since then, including as recently as Dec. 20, when he was taken into custody on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of burglary tools.
McAlister was also on parole when San Francisco State University police arrested him in November in connection with an auto burglary and for allegedly possessing burglary tools, according to police records.
County Jail records show he was also booked in August for vehicle theft and drug-related charges.
The California Department of Corrections, which oversees parole agents, said that none of McAlister’s arrests since being released on parole have resulted in criminal charges being filed by the district attorney.
“Our parole office followed all procedures after these incidents, including conducting investigations and making appropriate referrals for the individual,” the department said in a statement.
Matt Dorsey, a spokesperson for Police Chief Bill Scott, said everyone in law enforcement “must be held equally accountable for decisions we make that affect public safety.”
“At the San Francisco Police Department, we believe in making improvements wherever improvements can be made,” Dorsey said.
Boudin has invited the involved agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of the events that led up to the incident, according to his office. He also implemented a policy to streamline communication between prosecutors and parole.
Among those who criticized Boudin for not filing charges against McAlister on multiple occasions was the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
“Two people were killed on New Year’s Eve because Chesa Boudin refused to do his job, which is to hold criminals and victimizers accountable,” SFPOA President Tony Montoya said.
But Police Commissioner John Hamasaki, a criminal defense attorney, said it is common for prosecutors not just in San Francisco to refer individuals to parole for low-level offenses instead of filing new charges.
“Letting parole handle low-level offenses is standard procedure,” Hamasaki tweeted. “It’s a question of resources and efficiency, which all DAs have to consider. This isn’t a Chesa thing, this is a criminal system thing.”