Conflicting SFPD Testimony Leads To Release Of Man Accused Of SF Giants Celebration Arson

A man accused of lighting a fire in a trash bin during the celebration after the San Francisco Giants’ World Series win in 2012 has been acquitted of felony arson charges, the city’s public defender’s office announced today.

Brian Irwin, a 22-year-old Oakland resident, was also acquitted of misdemeanor battery on an officer but was convicted of misdemeanor resisting arrest in the jury’s verdict issued Thursday, according to the public defender’s office.

Irwin was arrested following an incident near Third and Harrison streets in the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2012, after the Giants had clinched the World Series in a four-game sweep over the Detroit Tigers.

He was one of at least nine people charged by the district attorney’s office for vandalism cases following the win. Other incidents included the lighting ablaze of a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus on Market Street and graffiti along Mission Street storefronts.

Prosecutors had said Irwin yelled an expletive and extended his middle finger toward police officers, then set fire to contents of a Dumpster. Police then chased him through Yerba Buena Gardens and tackled him in bushes, prompting Irwin to spit blood in an officer’s face.

However, according to the public defender’s office, three police officers testified during the two-week trial and gave conflicting accounts of the incident and whether Irwin lit a fire in the trash bin.

His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Peter Santina, said Irwin did not have a lighter or matches with him and his clothing did not smell like smoke after his arrest.

His friend also testified, saying Irwin jumped on the Dumpster to celebrate but did not light a fire.

The jury also rejected the claim that Irwin purposefully spit on the officer, according to his public defender, who had argued Irwin was just trying to breathe when he inhaled and exhaled through his injured nose.

“There was zero physical evidence that Mr. Irwin lit anything on fire. The charges were based solely on the memories and perceptions of three police officers working under extremely confusing conditions,” Public Defender Jeff Adachi said in a statement.

“Fortunately, Mr. Irwin’s public defender was able to expose the shaky, conflicting accounts of the night,” Adachi said.

The lone conviction in the case was for resisting arrest for Irwin’s fleeing from police. He had faced up to four years in prison if convicted of all charges, according to the public defender’s office.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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