Thursday Morning News Roundup
Oracle Team USA Fans Celebrate Comeback Victory At America's Cup
Tens of thousands watched a historic comeback win for Oracle Team USA on the San Francisco waterfront during the final race in the America's Cup Finals Wednesday afternoon.
Oracle triumphed over challenger Emirates Team New Zealand, defending the U.S. title.
When the 19th race of the finals began at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oracle and New Zealand were tied 8-8.
Oracle had trailed by a margin of 8-1 last week, but its surprise winning streak of eight consecutive wins had tied up the regatta and forced Wednesday's winner-take-all face-off.
Both teams needed nine points to win the cup.
The Oracle team started the finals with a two-point deficit after being penalized for illegal boat modifications during earlier exhibition races, making the comeback all the more stunning.
At the award ceremony at America's Cup Park at Piers 27/29 after the Oracle victory, former mayor and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom congratulated the two teams and praised the city for hosting the regatta.
"This is the most fan-friendly America's Cup in history," Newsom said.
He thanked the massive crowd, estimated to have reached 25,000 at the waterfront venue, for "being part of history."
Mayor Ed Lee, wearing a blue Oracle Team USA hat, cheered for the triumphant team.
"This is what sports is all about," he said, adding he was proud of the competitors on both teams.
New Zealand skipper Dean Barker told the crowd he was disappointed but said Oracle was a tough competitor that brought an "unbelievable finale."
He recognized his fans, whom he called "our most loyal group of supporters here in San Francisco and around the world."
The coveted silver Cup was then presented to the Oracle crew, with the crowd chanting "USA!"
The team's skipper, Jimmy Spithill, said his crew worked hard for the so-called improbable outcome and that the fans' support carried them to the finish line.
"We dug out of a big hole," he said. "This is a team that never gives up."
The finals lasted longer than anticipated because of Oracle's comeback and mercurial wind conditions on the water, which resulted in some races being postponed.
There have been only two other neck-and-neck races such as this one in the 162-year history of the America's Cup, in 1920 and 1983, according to race officials.
With the Americans defending the Cup, the next race in 2016 will stay in the U.S.
Shooting Reported On Same Corner As Homicide Last Week
A victim was shot Wednesday evening in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood less than a week after two people were shot at the same corner, police said.
Wednesday's shooting was reported near the corner of 23rd and Arkansas streets at 6:57 p.m., police said.
An adult victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg.
At the same corner last Thursday 24-year-old Jimmy Chandler and a 21-year-old woman were both shot.
Chandler died at the hospital a short time later and the woman survived, police said.
A large crowd gathered at the shooting scene that night and eventually turned hostile and police used pepper-spray to disperse the people.
Police have not reported any arrests in that shooting.
Ex-County Supervisor Wants Public Defender In Phony Campaign Mailer Case In San Jose
An attorney for former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Wednesday asked a judge in San Jose that a public defender take over a criminal case charging Shirakawa with creating a faked campaign mailer in 2010.
John Williams, who is Shirakawa's lawyer in a separate political corruption case, said that Shirakawa wanted the county's Office of the Public Defender to represent him on the felony charge related to the mailer.
Shirakawa, 51, resigned from office on March 1 as part of a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to five felony and seven misdemeanor charges for filing inaccurate government finance and campaign reports.
Despite entering the guilty pleas back on March 18, Shirakawa still has not been sentenced.
His sentencing has been delayed while his lawyers fought the charge filed by the district attorney's office on June 5 related to the campaign leaflet.
Prosecutors charged Shirakawa with felony false impersonation, alleging he fabricated the mailer sent to voters in District 5 in San Jose to embarrass San Jose City Council candidate Magdalena Carrasco, who was running in 2010 against Xavier Campos.
Shirakawa's former aide Campos ultimately won the election for the District 5 seat and is currently serving on the City Council.
Superior Court Judge Rise Jones Pichon Wednesday agreed to allow Shirakawa to contact the public defender's office to see if he is eligible to be represented at no cost.
Pichon set two hearings for Oct. 2, one to decide when Shirakawa's next court date would be on the campaign mailer case and the other to assign a judge to preside over Shirakawa's sentencing in the political corruption case.
Shirakawa accompanied Williams to Pichon's courtroom in the Hall of Justice in San Jose and left the court without comment.
Deputy District Attorney John Chase said after Wednesday's hearing that at least two more hearings would have to take place before Shirakawa may be sentenced.
Shirakawa, in seeking representation from the public defender's office, is saying that he is indigent and cannot afford to pay for his legal fees, Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery said.
"At the end the court will make that determination and decide whether he pays part or any of those attorney's fees," Sinunu-Towery said. "Indigent people in this county are entitled to representation from the public defender's office."
On Friday, Judge Griffin Bonini denied a motion by Shirakawa's private attorney, Jay Rorty, to dismiss the charge about the phony mailer.
Bonini, at Rorty's request, set Wednesday's hearing so that Shirakawa could identify a new lawyer who would represent him during future proceedings in the mailer case.
Prosecutors have requested that Shirakawa serve up to a year in county jail on the 12 charges he pleaded guilty to in March.
City Officials Unveil New Traffic Beacon For Sloat Blvd Pedestrian Safety
A new traffic beacon was unveiled Wednesday to improve pedestrian safety on a thoroughfare in San Francisco where a high school girl was killed earlier this year.
The new system of yellow and red lights was installed on Sloat Boulevard at Forest View Drive, where Lowell High School student Hanren Chang, 17, was killed by an allegedly drunk driver as she crossed the street on March 2.
Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the area, said the traffic beacon is the first of its kind in San Francisco and only the second in the state.
The lights facing traffic remain blank until a pedestrian presses the button to cross the street, then flash yellow, then change to a steady yellow light and a steady red when it is time for the pedestrian to cross.
The lights will then blink red, meaning drivers should treat it as a stop sign and travel through the intersection only when the pedestrian is safely across the street.
Tang said many community members had already been pushing for improved pedestrian safety measures before Chang's death, and those calls only increased afterward.
"We want to make sure you feel safe crossing the street here," she said.
Anyan Cheng, a friend of Chang's, started an online petition asking the city to put up a signal at the intersection, saying pedestrians before "had to wait and hope drivers were nice enough to stop."
Cheng said, "I'm definitely happy that the city listened to the voice of the community," saying Lowell High students were particularly grateful since many get dropped off right at that that intersection by the 23-Monterey San Francisco Municipal Railway bus.
Chang's parents also attended Wednesday's unveiling ceremony and said it was a bittersweet day in the wake of their daughter's death.
Wenhan Chang, the girl's father, said, "It's bitter as it reminds us of the tragic event several months ago, however it's sweet to know that my daughter's sacrifice is not in vain."
He called on pedestrians to be alert and vigilant while crossing streets and for motorists to not drive under the influence or while distracted.
Kieren Brewer, the man who allegedly struck Hanren Chang, is still awaiting a preliminary hearing on felony vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges, district attorney's office spokesman Alex Bastian said.
San Francisco Department of Public Works director Mohammed Nuru said the $690,000 traffic beacon project was important on Sloat Boulevard, which he said has become a major street for traffic in the city.
San Francisco collaborated with Caltrans on the project because Sloat Boulevard also serves as state Highway 35 as it connects Skyline Boulevard to the west with state Highway 1, city officials said.
Nuru said the city is also soon installing another beacon, located at Sloat and 23rd Avenue, as well as putting in curb bulb-outs and other pedestrian improvements along the street in the coming months.
Police Capt. Curtis Lum said officers are also increasing patrols of the area and focusing on speeding drivers.
More information about the Sloat Boulevard improvements can be found on the SFDPW website at www.sfdpw.org/index.aspx?page=1688.
Sunnyvale Officer Justified In Shooting, Killing Man Coming At Him With Hammer
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has concluded that a Sunnyvale police officer was justified in fatally shooting a man who came at him with a hammer raised over his head, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Officer Thomas Sprayberry of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety fired seven shots at Jason White, hitting him three times outside White's mother's home in Sunnyvale on Dec. 15, 2012, prosecutors said in a 34-page report released Wednesday.
Sprayberry had been called to the home in response to a domestic dispute that involved White, 36, and White's 68-year-old mother Georgiana at 884 Tartarian Way near Middlebury Drive in Sunnyvale at about 6 p.m., according to prosecutors.
The officer was the first to arrive at the scene, heard Jason and Georgiana White arguing on the driveway of the home and due to the urgency of the situation, did not have the opportunity to take along "less lethal force options" from his car while pursuing Jason White, prosecutors reported.
Sprayberry noticed White approach him holding a ball-peen hammer, raised above White's head as if to strike, prompting the officer to tell him repeatedly to "Put down the hammer," according to prosecutors who quoted witness accounts.
White, however, kept coming after the officer, who at first retreated, then dropped his flashlight and police baton and repeatedly ordered White to stop, prosecutors said.
According to the district attorney's office, after White did not stop advancing, Sprayberry fired his gun from a distance of 25 to 30 feet, aiming at White's torso, until the man fell.
"In our view, the officer used no more force than was necessary under the circumstances as he stopped shooting once White was on the ground," prosecutors reported.
The officer was justified in using deadly force to protect himself from an imminent threat posed by White, according to prosecutors.
"Based on all the evidence, we conclude that Officer Sprayberry lawfully discharged his firearm in self-defense," prosecutors said.
Prior to the shooting, White was intoxicated and when told by a neighbor that police were on the way, reportedly said, "I'll take on the f---ing police any day, any time!" prosecutors said.
Sprayberry had known Jason White after seeing him jaywalk in Sunnyvale in 2011, when White reportedly said that he would "lose it" the next time he met with police, prosecutors said.
Redwood City Park Ranger Killed In 1976 Inducted In Peace Officer Memorial
California Parks and Recreation Service Ranger Patricia Scully was remembered Wednesday as a very dedicated ranger who was "absolutely in her element," before her life was cut short in 1976 when at 25 years old she was killed by a drunken driver while patrolling state beaches along the coast near Half Moon Bay.
Scully was inducted to the San Mateo County Peace Officer's Memorial at a windy morning ceremony in the courtyard of the San Mateo County Center some 37 years after her death.
Speaking on Scully's behalf at the formal ceremony, which included the San Mateo County Sheriff's Honor Guard, a lone bagpiper and a formal flag-folding procedure, was her older brother Tom Scully, San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks, former sheriff and now District 3 San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley and California Parks Service Ranger Nelle Lyons, who received the Scully Scholarship in 1999.
The second female law enforcement officer ever killed in California, Scully helped carve out a woman's role in law enforcement, being hired as a ranger only two years after the first woman was hired and just six years after women were allowed to serve in law enforcement, Nelle Lyons with the California Parks Service highlighted at Wednesday's ceremony.
"She was confident in what she was doing in a new field for women," Lyons said.
Lyons said Scully was truly missed by all who knew her but she also impacted those she never knew including Lyons herself, who benefited from the Scully Scholarship.
Horsley told the crowd of more than 40 people that Scully was never added to the memorial because at the time of her death, the memorial did not exist.
He said it was brought to his attention and with the help of state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and others, they were able to ensure that Scully was recognized for her contributions.
Scully, it was remembered by brother Tom Scully, was someone that everyone in her large family of six siblings looked up to.
He said she always wanted to give back and being with the parks department gave her that perfect opportunity.
He said the family has honored her with a bench at Ano Nuevo State Beach and a specified portion of state Highway 1 has been named Ranger Patricia M. Scully Memorial Highway, for which the family is grateful.
In conjunction with National Police Week, each May the San Mateo County Police Chiefs and Sheriff Association conduct the annual Fallen Police Officers Memorial Ceremony at the Old Courthouse Museum Square.
Scully's name and honor will be added to the list of 27 local officers who have died in the line of duty in the county's history.
Her family, including Scully's 96-year-old mother, will be invited to the ceremony each year.
Caltrain Tracks Reopen After Brush Fire Forces Two-Hour Closure In Burlingame
A brush fire that spanned both sides of the Caltrain tracks in Burlingame Wednesday evening caused major delays for the rail service throughout the evening commute, fire and Caltrain officials said.
Burlingame police asked Caltrain to halt train service at 6:15 p.m. because of a brush fire near the Broadway station, according to Caltrain.
A San Mateo County fire dispatcher said that the fire was burning in the area of California Drive and Dufferin Avenue.
The fire spanned about two-and-a-half acres and started on the east side but spread to the west side of the tracks, prompting firefighters to shut down train service to keep firefighters safe as they worked to put out the fire, Central County Fire Department Division Chief Rocque Yballa said.
Firefighters quickly contained the fire but the tracks remained closed for about two hours while crews worked on putting out hot spots and making sure the fire didn't flare up again, Yballa said.
"Any time you have combustible vegetation, you need to break it apart to make sure it doesn't re-flash," Yballa said.
The tracks reopened shortly after 8 p.m. but major delays on the service are continuing due to the long track closure, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.
SamTrans provided a free bus bridge between San Mateo, Burlingame and Millbrae while SamTrans, VTA and BART accepted Caltrain tickets Wednesday evening, she said.
No one was injured by the fire and investigators are working to determine what caused it, Yballa said.
Man Wanted On $1M Warrant For Gang Shooting Turns Himself Into Salinas
A man wanted on a $1 million arrest warrant stemming from a gang-related shooting that left another man badly injured has turned himself in to Salinas police.
Fernando "Freddy" Valdez, 23, surrendered at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday after arranging with his attorney to meet with police, police said.
Valdez was placed under arrest on suspicion of attempted murder and gang allegations, police said.
His surrender came three days after police obtained the million-dollar warrant for his arrest in connection with a Sept. 10 attempted murder with a firearm that is considered gang-related, police said.
The victim of the shooting was sitting in a car at the intersection of John Street and South Sanborn Road in Salinas when someone fired shots into the vehicle, police said.
He suffered multiple bullet wounds to the torso and was initially in critical condition.
He remains hospitalized but his condition has been upgraded to serious but stable, police said Wednesday.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Sunny skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning.
Highs are likely to be in the 60s to lower 70s, with northwest winds up to 20 mph.
Clear skies are expected this evening.
Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 20 mph.
Sunny skies are likely Friday morning.
Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s to mid 70s, with northwest winds up to 10 mph.
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