sfpd_squad.jpgA San Francisco Superior Court jury today acquitted a San Mateo man accused of attacking an off-duty police officer with a knife following a traffic dispute on Haight Street in 2009.

Nicholas Batchelor was arrested the afternoon of Feb. 10, 2009, when police said he stabbed 46-year-old Sgt. John Burke. Burke was hospitalized and recovered.

Batchelor had reportedly been cut off by a bus while driving his green Cadillac, and swerving to avoid it, nearly clipped Burke on his bike.

According to the defense, Batchelor then yelled at the bus driver, while Burke mistakenly thought Batchelor was yelling at him. Burke caught up with Batchelor as he was parking down the street.

Batchelor, 28, testified that Burke confronted him, hit him in the face with his palm, and pushed him to the ground, and that Batchelor stabbed him once in self-defense. Batchelor said Burke did not identify himself as a police officer.

Burke said Batchelor was the instigator. Batchelor was arrested a short time after the stabbing.

Batchelor, a grocery store manager with no prior criminal history, had originally been charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, battery, possession of a switchblade knife and concealing evidence.

A judge later dismissed the attempted murder charge at a preliminary hearing, and this morning, the jury acquitted him of the remaining charges.

“It is not in dispute that Nicholas Batchelor was in San Francisco to buy drugs, stabbed a police officer in the chest, fled the scene, and tried to hide evidence,” district attorney’s office spokesman Brian Buckelew said today.

According to Public Defender’s office spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton, Batchelor had intended to buy medical marijuana from a Haight Street cannabis club and had a valid medical marijuana ID card.

Buckelew said that trying the case “was the right thing to do, and it is disappointing that we were not able to disprove the defense’s self-defense theory beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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