Unwitting Getaway Driver Acquitted of Robbery
A San Francisco man forced at gunpoint to become a getaway driver for a federal fugitive was acquitted of numerous robbery-related felonies following a three week trial, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced on Friday, February 19th.
Jurors on Thursday found Tyree Davis, 21, not guilty of two counts of robbery, burglary, receiving stolen property and felony evading police. If convicted, Davis faced a maximum of eight years and eight months in prison, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Matt Sotorosen. He was convicted only of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.
The charges stemmed from a mattress store hold-up and dramatic high speed chase on Dec. 2, 2013. Three men clad in ski masks entered McKroskey Mattress Company showroom on Market Street. One of the assailants brandished a gun and robbed two employees of their wallets, a watch and a pair of sunglasses.
Police stopped a car with four young men inside after following the vehicle from Market and Church streets to Bosworth and Diamond streets. Davis, the driver, immediately pulled over before speeding off, reaching up to 50 miles per hour on surface streets during the 10 minute chase. The car crashed at Andover Street and Richland Avenue, and three of the four men were arrested. The gunman escaped, leaving behind a hooded sweatshirt and gloves. He was identified through DNA testing as Darell Buckins, who was wanted for fleeing a federal halfway house three months earlier.
Davis, who took the stand in his own defense, said he had just purchased a used car and was driving around with an acquaintance the day of the crime. The acquaintance asked him to pick up two men he identified as friends, but were unknown to Davis.
Davis, who never left his car, was unaware that the three men were committing a robbery while he waited for them to return from an unidentified errand. When he pulled over for police, he testified, Buckins ordered him at gunpoint to hit the gas.
Neither of the victims of the robbery identified Davis as an assailant, noting that all three men stood less than 5 feet, 8 inches tall. Davis is 6 feet 2 inches.
Davis’ phone records did not show any communication with any of the men other than his acquaintance, and their text messages did not show evidence of planning a robbery.
“Mr. Davis feared for his life. He was open and honest on the stand, at times overcome with emotion. The jury found him extremely credible,” Sotorosen said.
Buckins was never charged in the incident. He is currently in jail facing charges in connection with a similar robbery of a San Francisco electronics store.
Adachi said the case illustrates how crime victims can sometimes find themselves wrongly accused.
“Mr. Davis was basically kidnapped at gunpoint by a fugitive, yet he is the one who has been fighting criminal charges,” Adachi said. “He is relieved beyond measure that this ordeal is behind him.”