San Francisco DA under fire after pedestrians killed by Parolee
Chesa Boudin took office as district attorney in San Francisco a year ago, part of a politically progressive wave of prosecutors committed to seeking restorative justice over mass incarceration.
But now the former deputy public defender and son of one-time Weathermen radicals is under fire for the deaths of two pedestrians on New Year’s Eve who were run down in an intersection by a 45-year-old parolee, fueling criticism in a city plagued by rampant drug dealing and a surge in break-ins. Distraught and fed-up residents have taken to social media to highlight burglaries and attempted home invasions in their communities.
Police say Troy McAlister was intoxicated when he ran a red light in a stolen car, killing Elizabeth Platt, 60, and Hanako Abe, 27. The San Francisco police officers union says a plea agreement for a robbery set McAlister free on parole in April, and that Boudin’s office failed to prosecute McAlister’s multiple arrests in the aftermath, including one Dec. 20 for alleged car theft.
McAlister has been incarcerated in state prisons numerous times, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terri Hardy said by email. In April 2020, he was sentenced in San Francisco County to five years for second-degree robbery and was released on parole for time served.
Boudin has defended his office’s choices, saying that charging McAlister with a new, nonviolent crime would not have necessarily put the serial offender behind bars. He said multiple law enforcement agencies could also have acted differently to avoid “a terrible and devastating tragedy” and vowed to make “concrete changes” in his office.
Boudin also said it’s standard practice for district attorneys, especially with nonviolent offenders, to defer to state parole agents who have more nuanced options than filing a new criminal charge.