Videos clear teen in fatal Mission stabbing

Homicide charges were dropped today by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office against a teenage boy who had been accused of fatally stabbing a 14-year-old boy in the city’s Mission District last September.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said his office is relieved that its client, who was arrested by San Francisco police the day after the Sept. 2 death of 14-year-old Rashawn Williams, will be released from juvenile hall today:

“The tragedy is that it took so long.”

Adachi said the juvenile has been vilified as the person who stabbed Rashawn, but that video surveillance footage exonerates his client and shows that another male at the scene stabbed him.

San Francisco police said Rashawn was stabbed at about 6:50 p.m. on Sept. 2 at Rubin’s Market at the intersection of 25th and Folsom streets. Police said the homicide did not appear to be random but have not released any details about a possible motive.

San Francisco District Attorney’s Office spokesman Alex Bastian confirmed this morning that charges filed against the juvenile were dismissed:

“Given all the evidence, charges have been dropped at this time. The case remains under investigation.”

Adachi said both the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office had access to the surveillance footage, but failed to drop the homicide charges against the juvenile until today. Adachi held a news conference in December to release the footage.

He said his decision to release the surveillance footage was done out of desperation and with the hope that the homicide charges would be dropped against his client. According to Adachi, prosecutors asked the judge handling the case not to allow for the release of the footage to the public, but the judge agreed to its release, stipulating only that names not be released and that faces in the video be blurred.

Deputy Public Defender Gregory Feldman said in December that both the accused juvenile and another male were hanging out near the BART station at 24th and Mission streets prior to the stabbing and were clearly captured on video surveillance cameras at the BART station and at a nearby McDonald’s.

Feldman explained that his client was wearing light-colored khakis, a short-sleeved black shirt with a white logo and a black beanie at the time of the stabbing, whereas the person who is allegedly captured on video stabbing Rashawn was wearing dark pants, a dark sweatshirt and a gray beanie.

The stabbing itself is captured from a video surveillance camera across the street from Rubin’s Market and appears to show the male with the sweatshirt stabbing Rashawn, Feldman said.

Adachi said today:

“We proved who did it.”

He said the boy will be released from juvenile hall today and will be reunited with his family after a long time away from home. He said he hopes people will give the boy and his family privacy so that he can soon return to school and resume a normal life.

The name of the juvenile is not being released, according to Adachi. He said his client could have faced life in prison if the charges had not been dropped. He said this case serves as a reminder that “Innocent people are sometimes arrested and charged and jailed for serious crimes.”

The San Francisco Police Department has not yet released any information about the suspect who Adachi said was caught on video surveillance footage stabbing Rashawn. Rashawn attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory school as a freshman.

According to school officials, Rashawn was at the convenience store with a family member when the stabbing occurred. Rashawn’s mother transported him to California Pacific Medical Center’s St. Luke’s Campus and paramedics transported him from there to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

Rashawn entered the private Catholic high school with a 4.0 GPA from Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 school and was a member of the freshman football team, according to school officials.