A preliminary hearing for Omeed Aziz Popal, 30, began Wednesday morning, when a handful of his alleged pedestrian victims described being struck by a black sport utility vehicle on various city streets and sidewalks of northern San Francisco on Aug. 29, 2006.
Several San Francisco police officers have also testified about responding to the various crime scenes and interviewing witnesses to the hit-and-run attacks.
Popal is accused of targeting 17 pedestrians in all, during an approximately 15-minute span, before the black Honda Pilot he was driving was boxed in at about 1 p.m.by police cars in the Laurel Heights neighborhood and he was arrested.
The victims’ injuries ranged from minor scrapes to one woman who suffered life-threatening injuries and is now a quadriplegic.
Popal has been charged by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office with 17 counts of attempted murder, 17 counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and felony counts of battery on a peace officer causing injury and reckless evasion from police.
Defense attorneys and Popal’s family contend he has a history of mental illness. However, after a positive reaction to medication, he was found competent to stand trial in November 2006.
The preliminary hearing, after which Judge Carol Yaggy will decide if enough evidence has been presented to hold Popal for trial, is expected to last several more days.
The hearing is scheduled to resume at 1:30 p.m. in Department 28.