A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Monday agreed to release a man from custody after a sheriff’s deputy fatally shot his dog while serving a bench warrant for his arrest Thursday.
David Wesser, 33, had missed court late last month, prompting a judge to issue a no-bail bench warrant.
When two deputies showed up to his residence at the Broadway Hotel at 2048 Polk St., deputies kicked down the door and Wesser went to hold his dog “Ruby” back by her collar, according to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. Although Wesser allegedly asked the deputies not to shoot Ruby, at some point a deputy opened fire, striking her in the head and killing her, according to the public defender’s office.
The public defender’s office has also alleged that Wesser suffered a gunshot wound to his hand.
During Monday morning’s court hearing, a solemn-looking Wesser appeared in an orange jail jumpsuit and with one hand bandaged. According to Wesser’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Dana Drusinsky, Wesser had missed his Aug. 30 court hearing because he was in the hospital for unrelated medical treatment.
Drusinsky asked Judge Michael Bergert to release Wesser, who hasn’t been charged related to the deputy-involved shooting, back to the case management program he was already in. He has an open burglary case and is on probation for a second, separate burglary case.
“We are worried about you,” Bergert said to Wesser. “Frankly, you have a history of being unreliable. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to recognize things have got to change,” Bergert said.
Wesser responded, “This is definitely an eye-opener.”
Bergert then agreed to release Wesser from custody, where he’ll be placed in stable housing and receive treatment.
Outside of court, Drusinsky said Wesser’s case manager was trying to secure a new room for him because they didn’t want to return him to the same room, where there may still be blood from the shooting.
“It’s just a weird case to serve a bench warrant on, because it’s not like it was a murder case or some kind of public safety concern,” she said.
Drusinsky also said that Wesser was having a hard time with losing his “best friend,” Ruby. He had rescued Ruby from a shelter after her previous owners had kept her malnourished.
“It’s literally been his one close companion that he’s had for the last two years, so it’s really sad,” she said.
According to Nancy Crowley, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, Wesser has a history of failing to appear in court, with last month’s no-show being the 17th time he’d missed a court appearance since 2015.
Crowley said if Wesser was in fact in the hospital the day he was supposed to be in court, his attorney should have let the court know and gotten the bench warrant dismissed.
“We have a duty to the public’s safety to enforce those warrants,” she said. “The thing is that to serve a warrant, our deputies have to put their lives on the line to do that and it’s unknown what the situation is like.”
Crowley said deputies had to force their way into Wesser’s home because he didn’t voluntarily open the door. When they came in, they were met with an aggressive pit bull, she said. A deputy then shot Ruby, but on the side of body and not on her head as the public defender’s office alleged, Crowley said.
Additionally, Crowley said there’s currently no evidence to indicate that Wesser was shot in the hand by a deputy. The deputy-involved shooting remains under investigation. The deputy involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, Crowley said.
-Daniel Montes, Bay City News