A jury on Monday found a homeless man not guilty of eight felonies, including two counts of assaulting a police officer, said Public Defender’s Office spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton.
Joshua Boling, 22, faced up to 11 years in prison in connection with a July 11 incident in which he was involved in an altercation with several police officers near the Panhandle area of Golden Gate Park, Aparton said.
In that incident, Boling was reportedly sitting in the park with a homeless woman when two bike patrol officers approached to talk to the woman. There was also a broken bicycle nearby.
As the officers asked the woman how she was doing, Boling got up and walked away, Aparton said. One of the officers asked him to stay so they could talk. Instead, Boling ran into traffic on Fell Street.
The officers followed him across Fell Street and one of them demanded he get on the ground, Aparton said. The officers said Boling took up a “fighting stance.”
One of the officers, believing Boling had pulled out a pocket knife, struck Boling in the knee with a baton, Aparton said. Boling then fled through the Department of Motor Vehicles parking lot toward Oak Street.
By this time, Aparton said, six to 10 officers were in pursuit of Boling. They tackled him near Oak and Divisadero streets.
One officer testified that she put Boling in a choke-hold and another officer testified that he punched Boling in the face six times and kicked him in the shoulder, Aparton said.
During the course of the trial, none of the officers who testified could give a legal reason why Boling was stopped or pursued.
His public defender, Michelle Tong, said there was no reason Boling should have been pursued in the first place.
“Walking away while homeless is not a crime,” Tong said. “A hunch is not a good enough reason to chase someone through traffic and pummel him into submission.”
Boling faced eight felony charges in the case, including two counts of assault on an officer, one count of brandishing a knife on an officer and five counts of resisting arrest.
Boling sustained severe bruising in the incident and his eye was swollen shut.
Jurors deliberated less than a day before reaching a not-guilty verdict, Aparton said.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said a citizen is not required to remain with a police officer unless they are being detained, and to detain someone police must have reasonable suspicion of a crime.
Boling was reportedly released from jail Monday, and the bicycle that was found at the scene was determined not to have been stolen.