A man accused of assaulting a security guard at the San Francisco apartment complex where he lived after the guard refused to let him in was acquitted of all charges by a jury, the public defender's office announced Wednesday.
According to the man's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Brandon Banks, the incident started when the guard didn't believe the man lived at the complex.
"As we see far too many times in this country, my client was a black man who just wanted to get home but was unfairly profiled by people who didn't think he looked like he belonged there," Banks said in a statement.
The incident occurred on Nov. 24 when Shaun Huddleston, 52, was trying to enter the building where he lived, located in the 800 block of Brannan Street, without a key fob. Huddleston lives in a subsidized unit, acquired through a lottery, in a building where units go for about $5,000 month, according to the public defender's office.
When he banged on the glass to get someone's attention, a female security guard arrived and refused to let Huddleston in.
"She never asked him to identify himself nor checked to see if he was in fact a resident," Banks said.
When Huddleston tried to pull the door open, the security guard slammed the door on his hand, causing Huddleston to push the door back, bumping the guard, Huddleston testified during the trial.
Once inside his apartment, officers arrived and arrested him.
"He was never even told he was being arrested," Banks said. "He opened the door, with no shirt on, and was immediately placed in handcuffs. They never gave him the opportunity to get dressed and they yanked him down the hallway, in front of all of his neighbors, further humiliating him."
Huddleston was charged with battery, resisting arrest and three counts of making criminal threats. A judge dismissed the making criminal threats charges mid-trial, with the jury acquitting Huddleston of the other charges.
In addition to the charges he faced, Banks said that because a judge issued a stay-away order from the building, Huddleston found himself homeless for a month.
"The judge simply read the police report and took those statements as true," he said. "It took multiple motions being filed to get this stay-away order modified so that Mr. Huddleston could go home."
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said in a statement, "Far too often people of color are wrongly accused of being somewhere they aren't supposed to be. In this case, it cost a man a roof over his head for four weeks and it could have cost him years in jail. Thankfully, the jury cut though the veil of prejudice and went straight for the facts."