SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - It was the day after Thanksgiving and Shaun Huddleston ran outside his luxury San Francisco apartment building for a minute to go buy some cigarettes.
He forgot his master key to get back inside the building at 855 Brannan Street where rents fetch up to $6,500 a month and the security guard didn’t believe the 50-year-old lived there.
The two got into a scuffle and Huddleston acknowledged he got agitated. He swore. He banged on the glass. The female guard ended up slamming his hand in the door, and video from the lobby showed him shoving her to the side, before he went upstairs. Huddleston acknowdged he got angry and cussed at her. He ended up brushing by her and going upstairs anyway, because he had the key to his own apartment.
In the meantime, the guard called police. And Huddleston was originally charged with three counts of making criminal threats, resisting arrest and battery. He spent a few days in jail. During the trial, a judge threw out the criminal threat allegations. And on Friday, a jury acquitted Huddleston of the remaining charges.
“My goodness,” Huddleston said in an interview this week. “I feel a lot better. Finally, there’s some justice. But my name has been slandered. People look at me differently now.”
San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Brandon Banks said the entire ordeal was made worse when a judge issued a stay-away order from Huddleston's own apartment for a month. “The judge simply read the police report and took those statements as true,” Banks said, noting it took multiple motions being filed to get the order modified.
“As we see far too many times in this country, my client was a black man who just wanted to get home but was unfairly profiled by people who didn’t think he looked like he belonged there,” Banks said.
Both Huddleston and the security guard are African American.
KTVU reached out to the property managers where Huddleston was the lucky recipient of a citywide lottery and is able to live in the building on a greatly reduced rate because of government subsidies. No one immediately responded for comment, and Huddleston said the security guard no longer works in his building. KTVU was unable to reach the security company for comment.
The District Attorney’s Office declined comment.
Body camera video of the arrest provided by the public defender’s office shows the moment Huddleston was arrested. Police spoke to him politely, though he was not given an opportunity to put on a shirt before being led away into a patrol car. He is seen swearing at police and complaining the handcuffs are too tight.
Huddleston, who said he volunteered at Glide Church and knew the late Mayor Ed Lee, said he entered the city’s housing lottery and was lucky enough to be picked in a random drawing. He gets by on General Assistance, which is a government program to help low-income people. He’s been living in the apartment for a little over a year.
The building’s tenants are mostly full of tech workers and international exchange students, he said.
Though he’s happy to be back home, being arrested for trying to get home was a rude awakening for him.
“It’s like you’re found guilty instantly,” Huddleston said. “You have to work to prove your innocence.”