A first-year student at San Francisco’s UC Hastings College of the Law allegedly ran a guy over while trying to take revenge on a group of graffiti taggers with her 1984 Mercedes-Benz.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, police say the bizarre incident went down around about 12:45 a.m. on Saturday after the student, 26-year-old Meghan Anne Zato, was asked to leave an Oakland bar for unspecified reasons.
On the way, Zato and an unnamed man saw the graffiti vandals tagging an exterior wall of the Oakland Public Library. Zato’s companion told the taggers they shouldn’t deface the wall. The taggers allegedly responded by pushing the man several times.
Zato, who was standing beside her car, told the vandals she was going to call the police on her cellphone. Police say the one of taggers responded to Zato by punching her a couple times in the face. A tagger then stole Zato’s cellphone.
She managed to get into her Mercedes. Police said the ruffians began rocking it back and forth and, of course, spraying it with graffiti. Eventually, Zato was able to drive away.
Police say Zato then drove down the street, pulled a U-turn, and barreled back down the street in the wrong lane toward the taggers.
She mowed down James Roda, a 25-year-old Oakland man. Roda’s skull cracked the windshield. He was flung about 100 feet.
Zato’s next move was to flee the scene. Witnesses to the incident followed her, however, and pretty quickly cornered her vehicle. When the police appeared, they arrested Zato.
According to an affidavit obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, the 1L was “hostile and offensive.” She also had “a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from her person and mouth, slurred and slow speech, as well as bloodshot, watery and droopy eyes.”
Police say Roda was not part of the tagging crew. He was just a wholly innocent bystander who happened to be crossing the street when Zato plowed into him.
Roda has already extensive undergone surgery for brain swelling and severe head wounds. His recovery will be long.
Zato has said that she did not mean to hit anyone with her Mercedes. Witnesses said they believe she was aiming for the graffiti taggers when she struck Roda.
Richard Meier, Zato’s attorney, reiterated that his client didn’t mean to hurt anyone. Meier also questioned the police account that Roda was not among the taggers, reports the Mercury News.
Zato posted $35,000 bail and appeared in court on Monday on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon with an enhancement clause of causing great bodily injury. Pending lab results, she may face additional drunk driving charges.
At the Monday hearing, bail was raised to $90,000.
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