By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
Yet some folks still have it in for Haggag. Adnan says he got threatening phone calls to his cellphone for two years after the shooting: If he gets out of that case, we're gonna look for him. If he goes to jail, we got somebody waiting for him. Adnan would just hang up.
The morning after the shooting, Jamie Hatch woke up in a room at San Francisco General Hospital as the TV news mentioned a story about five suspected shoplifters. She had spent the night beside Smith, who was recovering from the shooting in which bullet fragments fractured a vertebra in her neck and lodged next to her carotid artery, just short of a potentially fatal injury. The TV news announced that Pop Ya Collar had been torched, and Hatch says she rejoiced. "I was like, 'Yeah! That's what the fuck he get. He doesn't just get to go around shootin' people.'" She recalls Smith was less energetic: "She was just like, 'Oh my God, who did this?' Debbie was worried they'd think we had something to do with it."
The fire wasn't the end of street justice for Haggag Mohsin. Two days after the shooting, he says, he was jumped by several African-American men in the holding cell while he was in custody. They attempted to stab him in the face with a pencil, and then broke his nose.
Hatch snorts while recalling that jumping from a spartan interview room at the San Francisco County Jail, where she's currently in custody for violating her probation on a previous drug conviction. "I don't know how [the news] got in here," she says. "I think people went racial with it. You're a — we call them A-rabs — you don't get to just do that." Still, she insists she's no racist: "Some of 'em are cool, some of them stay to themselves."
Hatch says Smith, now 43, is a distant cousin she'd known since she was a child (although at trial, Smith said the women were not related). Now 24, Hatch speaks openly about her past, however unflattering. Growing up in the projects along Cesar Chavez, she dropped out of high school some time after having a baby at age 15 and became a career shoplifter — known as a "booster" in street lingo. She'd steal merchandise all over the Bay Area and later sell it at a reduced price, or take "orders" to steal specific items. Court records show she was most recently caught in January at Macy's for taking a Sean John shirt she says was for a job interview later that day. So Hatch understands why people might doubt her when she says she and Smith weren't robbing Pop Ya Collar. But she insists that, at the time, the two women were trying to go legit and had landed jobs at a Tenderloin hotel.
Although Hatch testified at the preliminary hearing, the DA said she couldn't find Hatch to serve her with a subpoena to testify during the trial. It seems that may have been a good thing for the prosecution. Hatch says the women had a falling-out after the shooting, and now alleges that Smith is exaggerating her injury to get a bigger payout in her personal injury lawsuit against Mohsin, whose store has a $1 million insurance policy. Hatch says that Smith would put on her neck brace only when she was going to visit her caseworker at the DA's office, who had helped her apply for state money for victims of violent crime. "She didn't need that fuckin' neck brace," Hatch says. "As soon as she got home she'd take it off. She'd be like, 'Girl, this has got me sweatin' all day.'"
Hatch says now she feels "used" to testify so Smith can win a handsome sum in her civil suit. "I didn't know this situation was gonna turn into evil. Who doesn't want 'justice'?" Hatch said, making air quotes with her fingers. "But she's not looking at it as justice. She's looking at it to get paid."
Mike Cohen, the attorney representing Smith in the civil suit pending in Alameda County Superior Court, disagrees. A guilty verdict, he said, might actually make it harder to win a claim, because it would show the shooting was an intentional act by Mohsin — and thus may not be covered by the store's insurance policy. "Debbie basically took the position that she's going to put it in God's hands because all she's interested in is the truth," he says. "She's going to say what happened and let the criminal process take its course, and if it makes it harder for us on the civil side, she doesn't care."
Although her version questioned Smith's motives, Hatch's account of the day Mohsin shot Smith is still damning and backs up the central point of the prosecution's case: He pursued the women out of the store and fired into a car he knew people were sitting in. Hatch says she tried on pants but didn't buy them; she then left the store and walked to Smith's car around the corner on Oakdale. Hatch says Mohsin crossed the street and tapped on the car's driver's-side window. Smith slammed on the accelerator, they heard the gunshot, and then Smith screamed she'd been hit. "He could have killed her," Hatch says. "He could have killed me. I just want him to get what he deserves."