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SF Jury Acquits Man Accused of Castro Hate Crimes After Nearly a Year in Jail

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San Francisco's Castro District on Oct. 27, 2017. (Ryan Levi/KQED)

A San Francisco jury acquitted a man who spent nearly a year in custody after he was accused of shouting anti-gay slurs and throwing a glass object at two men in the Castro, his attorneys said Wednesday.

Muhammed Abdullah, 21, was wrongly charged with battery, theft, assault and hate crime allegations in connection with two incidents from last June, according to the San Francisco public defender’s office. He had no previous criminal record.

A police officer admitted in court that “he had misrepresented the facts in a police report” from June 3, the public defender’s office said, adding that police also failed to investigate a separate June 5 incident properly.

The San Francisco Police Department and the district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the June 3 incident, the original police report said Abdullah attacked someone unprovoked. But Abdullah was acquitted of battery because he fought back in self-defense after he was grabbed from behind by someone offended by a sign Abdullah was carrying, the public defender’s office wrote.


In the June 5 incident, Mission Station SFPD officers detained Abdullah on 18th and Church streets after reports of an aggravated assault, according to an SFPD statement at the time. Police alleged Abdullah was following two men down the street, shouting anti-LGBTQ language at them. Abdullah was booked on counts of assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of committing a hate crime, as well as resisting arrest.

“These kinds of attacks are unacceptable,” Police Chief William Scott said in a statement last year. “It’s especially troubling that this incident took place as we celebrate Pride month in San Francisco. Anyone who threatens or harms someone based on being a member of the LGBTQ community will be held accountable.”

The district attorney’s office wrote, in a statement, that they take every case seriously and put forward their best case based on the evidence and legal burden of proof.

“Our office was presented with evidence that Mr. Abdullah attacked three members of the LGBTQ community in the Castro on June 3, 2023, and June 5, 2023, and when he did so, he expressed homophobic views verbally and in writing,” said the DA’s statement sent to KQED.

However, according to the public defender’s office, “police failed to gather any forensic evidence or available surveillance footage to support” the claim that Abdullah had thrown a glass object at the men.

“The jury was rightfully critical of the misleading police work and held the state to its burden of proof, which was wholly insufficient in this case,” said Tal Klement, a deputy public defender who represented Abdullah.

Abdullah was in a mental health crisis the day he was arrested, the public defender’s office said.

He continued to speak out against LGTBQ people in court, the Bay Area Reporter wrote in June last year. The LGBTQ community is “against God” and “going against families,” Abdullah said, according to the newspaper.

The newspaper also reported Abdullah was screaming to himself in jail before he appeared before Superior Court Judge Victor Hwang in June.

Abdullah was jailed ahead of trial because the court ruled he was a risk to public safety, denying his petition for a mental health diversion, according to the district attorney’s office.

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