SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / BCN) — A man who climbed a San Francisco luxury residential tower in September took the witness stand in court Monday to explain his actions, which resulted in three misdemeanor charges being filed against him.
Dan Goodwin, also known as “SpiderDan,” used suction cups to climb up the side of the Millennium Tower in the city’s South of Market neighborhood on Labor Day, which was Sept. 6.
Goodwin, 55, was arrested after reaching a 59th floor balcony on top of the building. He was charged with being a public nuisance, trespassing, and delaying or obstructing arrest, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Goodwin said on the stand in San Francisco Superior Court Monday that he climbed the building because fire departments are unable to fight fires in high-rise buildings, and he wanted to bring attention to the issue.
He said he also chose the Millennium Tower because of “the year of the millennium,” a reference to 2001, when “a number of things happened.”
He said in an interview outside the courtroom last week that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York were a prime example of the lack of rescue options available when dealing with skyscrapers.
Judge Teri Jackson disallowed further reference to 2001 and did not allow Goodwin to mention Sept. 11, which she said would “only inflame the jury” and has no relevance to his case.
“You need a legal reason, not a moral reason, against these charges,” Jackson warned Goodwin and his attorney, Herman Holland.
Prosecutor Michael Maffei has presented several firefighters and police officers to testify about Goodwin’s climb.
Goodwin faces the public nuisance charge because authorities had to shut down the entire block of Mission Street where the building is located during the climb, Maffei said.
He also allegedly ignored officers’ demands to come back down when he was already several floors up the building, which led to the delaying arrest charge, and he went uninvited onto the property on the 59th floor, which resulted in the trespassing charge, Maffei said.
Goodwin said on the stand that he chose Labor Day for the climb because it was a holiday, and he thought the effects on nearby businesses would be minimal. He said he also chose a part of the building away from the sidewalk where he “would not be endangering anyone.”
He also said he did not hear the police order him to come down.
“All I heard…were sirens, and a cacophony of noise,” he said.
Holland argued during a break in the trial Monday that the trespassing charge should be dropped since it was authorities who ordered Goodwin to climb onto the balcony, and he might have faced additional resisting arrest charges if he refused.
Goodwin said outside of court that he has climbed about 10 skyscrapers, including a handful where he gained permission from building owners, and has never been convicted of any charges for his actions.
He did, however, go to trial for climbing the John Hancock Center in Chicago in the 1980s, he said.
He faces a maximum of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine if he is convicted of any of the charges for his September climb, according to Maffei.
The case is expected to go to the jury for deliberation following closing statements by the attorneys on Tuesday morning.
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