SAN LEANDRO, Calif. – An 18-year-old High School student was arrested for stealing an iPhone from a blind woman last week.
The completely blind 38-year-old female victim was walking with her white walking cane on Davis Street near downtown San Leandro on Wednesday, April 18, 2019 at around 9:30 a.m. The woman, who is known by many in the community, said she was walking near Clark Street
As she used her cane to scan her surroundings. She was walking on the sidewalk, when with her cane she felt what she believed was another person. Before she could react, she felt someone attempting to pull her iPhone from her hand, police said.
The woman attempted to fight back, tightening the grip on her phone from the person attempting to pull it away from her. She screamed for help as she struggled, which helped get the attention of witnesses. She told police that as she struggled, she fell to the ground and the suspect continued pulling her phone. The phone slipped from the case and the suspect gained possession of it.
A witness who was riding his bike called 9-1-1 and reported the incident to the San Leandro Police Department. He followed the suspect who ran into a nearby neighborhood. The witness provided the police with the location of the suspect, but the suspect was still running and he lost sight of him. A witness saw some of what happened from his apartment balcony after hearing the woman’s screams and he too, assisted in the investigation.
Police arrived at the scene and eventually the suspect was located several blocks away between two parked vehicles. The suspect, Jujuan Despanie, 18, a San Leandro High School student, attempted to evade arrest and ran from the scene. He also attempted to discard some evidence as he ran from the scene. A transit bus driver who was on Davis Street saw some of the incident, including the woman fall to the ground. The driver stopped and guided the woman onto his bus, taking her back to the San Leandro Bart Station. The woman was able to get assistance from the BART station attendant.
Despanie was taken into custody and he was found to have the cell phone in his possession when he was arrested. Since the woman was unable to identify the suspect because of her vision, the witnesses were able to positively identify Despanie as the suspect.
“I have seen many cruel acts committed against different people, but this one is especially disturbing,” said San Leandro Police Lieutenant Isaac Benabou. “People in our community with disabilities are sometimes defenseless and should never be seen as a target for criminals due to their vulnerability. Rather than to prey on those who cannot protect themselves, we have a moral responsibility as human beings to help one another when in need.”
The Alameda County District Attorney charged Jujuan Despanie with two felony offenses; robbery and abuse against a dependent adult, and one misdemeanor offense of resisting arrest.
Despanie remains in custody at Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
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