SAN FRANCISCO - A driver accused of hitting and killing two women in a stolen car is a paroled robber who remained free despite being arrested several times in San Francisco in recent months.
Troy McAlister, 45, was released from a state prison sentence for robbery in April and was not charged with new crimes by the District Attorney's office after being arrested on suspicion of car theft in November and December.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin said his office did not file new charges in the cases, choosing instead to refer each case to state parole agents, who can seek to imprison those who violate the terms of their release. He said parole officials have "more leverage" than his office to keep a person in custody for nonviolent charges.
"We referred these cases to parole because we believed there was a greater likelihood of him being held accountable and having the kind of intervention that would protect the public and break this cycle of recidivism," Boudin said.
He said parole officers did not hold McAlister "for a single day" after his most recent arrest on Dec. 20.
The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which runs parole, pointed to prosecutors’ repeated decision not to file charges.
"Our top priority is public safety and we will work with our local partners on this unfortunate incident," the department said in a statement Friday. "None of the parolee’s arrests following his 2020 release have yet to result in filings of criminal charges by the District Attorney. Our parole office followed all procedures after these incidents, including conducting investigations and making appropriate referrals for the individual.
Under California law, people accused of violating parole can be given added restrictions, treatment or punishment by parole officers. They have a right to a hearing in front of a judge and, if their parole is revoked, can spend a maximum of 180 days behind bars.
Prosecutors deciding whether to file a new charge — rather than enter parole proceedings — may weigh the strength of the new case, as well as whether the defendant will be released by a judge while the case is pending, and the potential punishment from a conviction.
Boudin said his office will make changes to ensure that people on parole receive proper supervision and structure.
Police say McAlister was behind the wheel of a stolen Honda that ran a red light in the South of Market area and struck two women crossing the street on New Year's Eve. Police said he got out of the car after the crash and ran into a nearby building, where he was arrested within minutes. He was booked for investigation of several charges, including voluntary manslaughter, DUI, and leaving the scene of an accident.
The medical examiner identified one of the victims as Elizabeth Platt, 60. The mother of the second victim said her 27-year-old daughter, Hanako Abe, had moved to the city last year to work for a real estate company.
The city's police chief, Bill Scott, called the deaths a "senseless tragedy that shouldn't have happened."
"We must all be held equally accountable for the decisions we make, because they can have serious implications for the safety of those we serve," he said.