The transgender woman who was the first person arrested for stealing a car as part of the San Francisco Bait Car reality TV show isn't a thief after all.
Prosecutors dropped the car theft charges against Joseph Bullard on Friday after interviewing a witness who said Bullard had told her she was going to move the car so that it didn't get towed, according to the public defender's office.
Police claim they didn't target certain people for the reality TV show, where cameras film officers busting alleged car thieves. Instead, police say they focused on areas where car theft is rampant. Yet defense attorneys weren't buying that -- they thought it was no coincidence that the police dropped the bait car outside the city's well-known transgender strip club, Diva's.
In the Dec. 27 Bait Car episode, where Bullard was arrested, producers left it up to the viewer to decide whether she was stealing the car or not. Bullard drove around the block back to the
same spot where she first got into the car -- which is presumably not what a car theft would do if he was trying to make a fast get-away. Now, a shortened clip on Bait Car's website seems to focus on her innocence. The clip is titled "The Good Samaritan," with the description "This person was merely trying to park this abandoned car in a proper parking space."
Bullard was standing outside the club when officers left the bait
car parked, hoping to lure a car thief. Bullard stopped another person approaching the car, and said, "I'll take care of it."
After telling Bullard "Ma'am, hold your hands up," Officer Nancy Guillory questioned Bullard about her prior record. Bullard told her she'd been arrested for prostitution. Guillory then asked if she was a male or a female, to which Bullard responded "male." The show cut to Officer Guillory's
commentary, where she said: "To be honest with you, I was shocked."
attorneys found the key witness that helped clear Bullard's record of car theft. The witness said that Bullard told her she was going to move the car so it wouldn't get towed.
The prosecutors dismissed the charge in a hearing on Friday.
"We would have loved to have an
across-the-board dismissal [of all the Bait Car cases], but it was just that one," says Evan Budaj, a volunteer attorney with the public defender's office. "The
prosecutor did use the word 'exonerated' on the record, which is
something we were happy with."
Budaj says KKI Productions, the
Hollywood-based company that filmed the Bait Car segments, has delivered
the footage for the two cases in front of Judge Gerardo Sandoval. KKI
had invoked the shield law to protect the footage, but
Sandoval ruled that KKI's contract with the city waived the shield law.
In the contract, KKI had promised to give any footage subpoenaed by the
district attorney. The deadline to deliver the footage for the cases in
front of Judge Andrew Cheng is Friday.
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