SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The parolee charged with killing two women in a San Francisco hit-and-run collision last week entered a not guilty plea Tuesday as a growing number of people called for SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin to lose his job.
Parolee Troy McAlister is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit-and-run, gun possession and stolen vehicle charges in connection with the fatal hit-and-run crash on December 31st. He also faces multiple enhancements related to a prior strike conviction.
Critics are saying the two women he is accused of running down in a San Francisco crosswalk on New Year’s Eve would likely still be alive had District Attorney Boudin taken McAlister off the streets when he had the chance.
Saying very few words during his ten-minute hearing, McAlister pleaded not guilty through his attorney Tuesday afternoon.
“There have been a lot of quick comments, accusations and attempts to point fingers and apportion blame,” Deputy Public Defender Scott Grant said after the hearing.
On Monday, a number of surprising details regarding the growing controversy around the case surfaced. Boudin was already being criticized over his handling of a parolee arrested for the deadly hit-and-run crash before it was revealed he once represented the suspect when he was a defense attorney at the Public Defender’s office.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association said a March 2020 sentencing agreement for a 2015 armed robbery between McAlister and Boudin’s office resulted in McAlister not serving any prison time, and that McAlister has since been arrested multiple times by the SFPD with Boudin failing to file criminal charges each time.
The SFPOA, which has long been at odds with Boudin’s policies and opposed his election, called for the creation of an independent oversight panel to review Boudin’s criminal charging decisions and a review of what the union called “potential conflicts of interests in criminal cases.”
The case has also drawn the attention of San Francisco City Hall. Late Tuesday, Supervisor Catherine Stefani called for a formal inquiry into how repeat offenders are being handled.
Then there are the San Franciscans who were critical of Boudin before the disaster in downtown San Francisco.
“Well yes, of course this was an evitable,” said Richie Greenberg, who has launched a campaign calling for Boudin to resign. “Frankly, to many of us including myself, we are surprised that it didn’t actually happen sooner.”
In addition to Greenberg’s “Chesa Must Resign” campaign, not to be confused with the campaign to recall Boudin. That recall website actually launched months ago. For his part, Greenberg thinks a recall is impractical.
“A recall is a much more complex, legal, official, voter-involved process,” Greenberg said.
It’s also expensive, and Boudin’s resignation is unlikely. So what comes out of this?
“I think this could be a wake up call for the district attorney, to really pay attention to repeat offenders; to make sure they’re not falling through the cracks and causing more tragedies,” said Joel Engardio of Stop Crime SF. “I’m for the reforms, but there has to be a balance.”
Engardio says the intense focus on this case may prompt changes in how the DA’s office operates, but not who’s running it.
“But I think, in a few years, the voters will have their say again,” Engardio said. “And they can decide whether to keep Chesa Boudin or vote for somebody else.”
The judge in McAlister’s case ordered that he be held without bond to ensure he remains in custody given the risk to the community.
McAlister’s next court appearance is scheduled on January 20.