Judge Refuses To Reduce Bail For Man Who Rammed Police With Stolen Taxi

A San Francisco Superior Court judge Thursday declined to reduce bail for a man who allegedly stole a taxi last week and used it to ram a police car, prompting an officer to shoot more than a dozen rounds at him.

The attorney for Peter Russell, 25, had argued for his $175,000 bail to be reduced or removed so he could go to a rehabilitation facility to be treated for alcoholism after the incident last Friday.

However, Judge Jerome Benson said Thursday that the case was too serious for Russell to be set free on a lower bail, citing the violent attacks on the taxi driver and police.

At about 4:30 a.m. Friday, Russell allegedly began jumping on the hood of a taxi near Jackson and Buchanan streets in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood and smashed its windshield, police said.

The cab driver fled and Russell got behind the wheel and drove away. Officers soon tracked the car to Jackson and Spruce streets in Presidio Heights, where they tried to block it from fleeing.

However, Russell allegedly drove straight at the officers, ripping off one of the doors of the police vehicle in a collision, the judge said Thursday.

One officer jumped out of the way and avoided injury while the other officer fired his service weapon at Russell. Benson said the officer fired 14 shots at the vehicle “because of the danger he felt the defendant posed to the public.”

Russell allegedly fled in the taxi, which was found abandoned shortly afterward at Bay and Octavia streets near Fort Mason. Russell was found a half-block away and taken into custody.

He had a blood-alcohol content of at least .15 percent at the time of the incident, according to the judge, while defense attorney Stuart Hanlon said Russell was also taking antidepressants.

“It’s a really difficult and sad case,” Hanlon said Wednesday. He had argued that Russell be released to Ohlhoff House, a San Francisco-based recovery center for people with drug or alcohol programs, saying Russell had already gone there on his own last year and completed a program.

However, Assistant District Attorney Nicole Crosby argued to keep the high bail because of the public safety risk Russell posed.

He remains in custody on carjacking, assault on a police officer,DUI and reckless driving charges and will return to court again on March 28.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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