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Friday, March 19, 2010

Jury Acquits Road-Raging Motorist Who Stabbed Police Officer

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 5:50 PM

A San Francisco jury today acquitted a San Mateo man who stabbed an off-duty police officer in the city's Haight neighborhood during a "road-rage" incident.

Nicholas Batchelor, a 28-year-old grocery store manager, was found not guilty on an array of charges -- including assault with a deadly weapon and battery -- that could have resulted in eight years in prison, according to Tamara Barak Aparton, spokeswoman for the office of Public Defender Jeff Adachi. The charges stemmed from an encounter Batchelor had with San Francisco Police Sergeant John Burke, 47, in February 2009.

While driving on Haight Street, Batchelor swerved -- because he was cut off by a Muni bus, he claimed -- and nearly hit Burke, who was riding a bicycle. Batchelor started yelling out the window of his car. (Also at the bus, he said.) Several blocks away, Batchelor parked his car and got into an altercation with Burke, who had followed him. A physical confrontation that Batchelor said began when Burke hit him in the face ended with Batchelor stabbing the off-duty officer in the chest with a knife he was carrying.

"The prosecution tried this case because they felt they had to, because a police officer was the alleged victim," deputy public defender Manohar Raju said in a statement. "However, the evidence showed that Sgt. Burke was the aggressor and attacked Mr. Batchelor and that Mr. Batchelor acted in self-defense under the law."

Retorted Brian Buckelew, spokesman for the district attorney's office, "The suggestion that we tried this case because the victim was a police officer is nonsense. We filed this case because we felt that the evidence of Mr. Batchelor's guilt was overwhelming. ... It's unfortunate that it turned out the way it did."

Added to the case of Weston Reynolds, a serial thief who escaped auto-burglary charges last week, this makes two Fridays in a row that Adachi's office has had a prominent acquittal to boast about.

Photo   |   Little Li

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