Shoplifter beats serious charges in SF robbery trial

A 35-year-old man who was caught and tackled by three security guards after shoplifting from a Target in San Francisco beat the felony charges against him Monday and was only convicted with the less serious charge of shoplifting.

Despite pulling out a knife and cutting two security guards, Jake Fitch-Barclay was only found guilty in Superior Court of one misdemeanor shoplifting charge and sentenced to time served, according to the Public Defender’s office.

He had been in jail for five months for stealing several items, including a pair of shoes he left the store with.

The April 16 incident left Fitch-Barclay roughed up, a security guard with a cut and another guard with a laceration that needed stitches.

Security footage shows Fitch-Barclay walking out of the store and then being taken down by three guards who drag him inside the store as shoppers watch. As the three guards, who were eventually joined by a fourth guard, tried to detain Fitch-Barclay, one of the guards started bleeding. Finally, the knife was taken from Fitch-Barclay and the men take him away.

But Deputy Public Defender Emily Dahm characterized the incident as three overzealous security guards who went above the call of duty when they tackled her client. Much of the incident at the Target on Geary Boulevard and Masonic Avenue was caught on tape.

“The video was clear. Mr. Fitch-Barclay never waves the knife or tries to stab anyone. He simply held it for protection. The guards were still manhandling him after he dropped all the merchandise, and he feared they would drag him to a back room and hurt him,” Dahm said. “This case was about three loss prevention officers that went rogue.”

The District Attorney’s Office spokesman Alex Bastian said the felony charges were brought because any time during the progress of a theft if force of fear is used the charge can be robbery.

Fitch-Barclay had been charged with two counts of felony attempted robbery and enhancements for use of  a deadly weapon and causing bodily harm.

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