Defense opens its case to halt West Sacramento anti-gang injunction

Hudson Sangree (The Sacramento Bee) | November 5, 2010

After months of prosecution evidence, defense lawyers opened their case Thursday in a trial to determine if a permanent anti-gang injunction is needed in West Sacramento to fight the alleged street gang known as the Broderick Boys.

The civil trial pits claims of civil rights vs. community safety.

The first defense witness was Charlotte Dorsey, a retired resident of the area targeted by the injunction who said she hasn’t experienced the types of gang activities, from intimidation to graffiti, that authorities say are commonplace in the city’s Bryte and Broderick neighborhoods.

Asked by defense lawyer Gordon Kaupp whether she had ever been intimidated or harassed as she walked the streets near her home, Dorsey answered no. She testified that she has often encountered groups of young men or boys, but never observed them wearing gang colors, flashing gang signs or engaging in crimes.

“Did you hear anything like ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘What do you claim?’ ” Kaupp asked. “Did you hear anything like this is Broderick or don’t mess with Broderick?”

“No,” she answered.

Dorsey called Broderick, where she lives, a “nice community” with “a lot of families who celebrate occasions together, low-income, mostly.”

“I like the small-town feel next to a big city,” she said.

Under cross-examination by prosecutors Jay Linden and Ryan Couzens, Dorsey said she was unaware of a number of crimes attributed to gang members, including shootings and methamphetamine sales.

The prosecutors showed her photographs of gang- related graffiti and young men tattooed with “BRK,” “Broderick” and the letter “B,” none of which she said she had seen before.

The point, the prosecutors said, was that someone can live in a neighborhood and not necessarily be familiar with everything that happens there.

The civil trial has been proceeding in a Woodland courtroom since mid-July before Yolo Superior Court Judge Kathleen White, who will decide whether to continue a temporary injunction she issued in May 2008.

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