An activist who was pursued by the City of Oakland for criminal vandalism and restitution is challenging his conviction four years later. César Aguirre was convicted for allegedly smashing the windows of the OPD Internal Affairs and Recruiting Offices during the Occupy Oakland General Strike of November 2-3, 2011. Aguirre has now filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging his conviction based on the prosecution's failure to disclose material evidence. NLG attorneys Brian McComas and Rachel Lederman will present closing arguments Monday concluding a 4 day evidentiary hearing in the case.
This was a rare, successful, vandalism prosecution related to Occupy and other demonstrations. It was entirely based on far fetched testimony of just one OPD officer who purported to identify Aguirre late at night from a staircase half a block away, amidst danger and chaos. The City of Oakland promptly sued Aguirre in civil court for the cost of replacing the windows. However, the District Attorney never produced any of the police body camera videos or radio communications to Aguirre's defense attorney in the 2012 trial, nor did the DA reveal the existence of other witnesses.
In the current hearing, Aguirre's lawyers presented testimony from 6 OPD SWAT officers; 2 OPD Undercover officers; OPD Chief Sean Whent; and OPD Media Relations Officer Johnna Watson; and introduced over a dozen body camera recordings refuting the sole witness' testimony at trial. During the hearing, it was revealed that OPD destroyed the police communication recordings while they were under subpoena.
This case received a lot of attention at the time, and the Alameda County District Attorney's office used it as an example of outsiders causing damage to the city and costing taxpayers. Aguirre consistently maintained his innocence. Argument will be presented Monday at 9am, at Courtroom 10, Seventh Floor of the Rene Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.