A long-time San Francisco street performer was acquitted Tuesday of hitting a person with a bike lock, according to the San Francisco Public Defender’s office.
Tyrone Ambus, 61, was found not guilty on two assault charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, after about 15 minutes of jury deliberation. If found guilty, the Union Square crooner could have faced up to four years in state prison, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Dough Welch.
Ambus was arrested on July 21 after what police said was a confrontation between him and two other men. One of the men told police that he and a friend were walking along Mason Street when Ambus rode up on a bike and hit him with a lock, causing an ear injury.
Ambus said that the man’s account was false, testifying that he “struck out” one of his hands in self-defense but never used the bike lock as a weapon.
Ambus and the two men then spoke with a nearby police officer, who Welch says quickly discounted Ambus’s version of events without investigating. The singer testified that he begged police to find a surveillance video from a nearby pub to prove his innocence.
An officer wrote in a police report that they “searched the area for video footage but to no avail.”
However, a nearby pub owner testified in court that no police officers had contacted him regarding the surveillance video. He said that by the time an investigator contacted him about it, the footage from that day had already been deleted.
“The police saw Mr. Ambus coming to them first and in a matter of moments, he was detained for a crime,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. “Nobody followed up on his side of the story and police falsely stated they looked for video.”
He continued: “The jury understood that you cannot prosecute a case with such little concern for evidence and investigation. That is how innocent people get convicted.”
Ambus, who almost lost his housing during the case, was thrilled to be exonerated and at one point serenaded the court with a version of The Captain and Tenille’s Love Will Keep Us Together.