Monday, September 1, 2008

SFGA history: Guardian Angels support good Samaritan cab driver

Angry Outcry Over Award For Mugger / Verdict a 'terrible message to all good Samaritans';

Feb 8, 1992. pg. A.1

Public outrage yesterday greeted a jury's award of $24,595 to a convicted mugger whose leg was broken when a cab driver pinned him to a wall with his cab while apprehending him.

Major media in San Francisco as well as officials in City Hall received a torrent of calls from people angry over Thursday's verdict against Holden Charles Hollom. The 50-year-old veteran cabbie had been hailed as a hero for capturing Ocie McClure after he robbed a Japanese tourist on Market Street in May 1989.

"My God, there's few of us enough who have the guts to do something like that," lamented Desmond Reeves, a San Franciscan retiree. "And this guy gets soaked for his pain because in the excitement of the moment he used a little excess force. As far as I'm concerned, the mugger should be dead."

San Francisco radio station KGO and the Los Banos accounting firm of Vogt and Hurley set up funds to pay the award against Hollom. Meanwhile, the Guardian Angels staged a demonstration at the San Francisco law office of McClure's lawyer.

"We're expressing public outrage at the terrible message this verdict sends to all potential good Samaritans -- that opportunist lawyers are stalking them for lawsuits, and will probably win, at a time when we need more public participation. It defies common sense," said Christopher Ford, the Guardian Angels' regional coordinator.

A spokeswoman for the Luxor Cab Co., which owns the cab Hollom drives, said the firm has been inundated with calls from as far away as Southern California, Oregon and Washington by people "who can't believe something like this is happening in the United States."

And the lines in Mayor Frank Jordan's office were tied up with calls from angry residents voicing support for the cabbie.

Amid all the reaction, Ian Zimmerman, McClure's lawyer, protested that news accounts have not given the public a fair presentation of the facts.

"If the public had the information the jury had, they would come to the same conclusion," he said.

He contended that McClure was winded and so tired that he was vulnerable to easy apprehension after being chased for blocks by several cab drivers following the late night purse snatch.

Hollom, he said, drove his cab around another taxi, pinned McClure against the wall and left his car in park with McClure's leg wedged against the wall for four minutes.
McClure later underwent three operations on the leg.

"His leg was broken in two places, and on one of the breaks, a bone was displaced. An artery was severed. A muscle was torn and just hanging there. It was gruesome. It looked like chopped meat," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said McClure, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence, is unlikely to get any of the money. Any damages, he said, would go to the city because he was treated at public expense.

At the same time, it is doubtful that Hollom will ever pay a dime, even if he loses the case on appeal. His attorney said Luxor has paid his legal fees and probably would pay any damage award.

If he had it to do over again, he would, said the 275-pound Hollom.

"He was a specter running down the street," said Hollom. "Visualize a man the size, shape and build of Mike Tyson, his eyeballs bulging, sweat popping out of his head. You had to see him."

Jurors never saw McClure, who is serving his sentence at Deuel Vocational Institute at Tracy. His pretrial testimony was read to the jury during the six-day trial.

PHOTO; Caption: Holden Charles Hollom pinned a mugger to a wall with his cab / BY FREDERIC LARSON/THE CHRONICLE

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