San Francisco
U.S. District Court

Armed car thief with penchant for high speed chases wins release bid

A man charged with ‘being a felon in possession of a firearm’ is set to be released to a residential drug treatment program after a favorable decision at a pretrial detention hearing held today in San Francisco federal courthouse.

Roger Dominguez was seen by SFPD officers driving a Honda Civic at high speed westbound on Mission Street on the morning of January 5 2023. He turned down a one-way street in the wrong direction, causing police to activate their patrol car’s emergency lights and pursue. They lost the vehicle almost immediately but later found that it had crashed in to another vehicle on Howard Street.

The Honda Civic driven by Dominguez
The vehicle into which Dominguez crashed

Dominguez fled from the scene but was captured nearby. At the time of his detention he was found with a Polymer80 9mm semi-automatic pistol in his left breast pocket, suspected heroin and shaved keys. He was brought back to the scene of the crash where he was identified as the Civic driver by witnesses. A search of the car turned up 9mm ammunition, a glass pipe, and burglary tools. The car itself had been reported stolen the previous month.

Dominguez was driving without the benefit of a license.

The two occupants of the car he had hit were taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

Dominguez was brought before the court today in custody having just been released from a notional 16 month state sentence, of which he served eight, in relation to the incident. A federal grand jury had previously indicted him for firearms possession.

In December 2021, in an almost identical incident, Dominguez, again in a stolen vehicle and again fleeing from police was again found with a firearm.

Defense attorney David Rizk told the court that his client’s brushes with the law all stemmed from substance abuse issues – specifically with opioids. His last eight months of enforced sobriety gave him an excellent foundation on which to build out of custody, either with his parents or in a residential program, he said.

“The defendant was operating a stolen vehicle as a high rate of speed, making illegal turns and, when police officers activated their sirens, he fled,” pointed out Assistant U.S. Attorney Danbee Kim who pressed the court to keep Dominguez in custody.

“The victims were removed to the hospital – he fled and was found with a firearm.”

“The defendant has a number of different convictions for crimes of violence, but I do see from the record that he has a long history of drug addiction,” observed U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson

“I do think, on balance, that the defendant seems to have made some efforts to turn things around.”

“It’s a close one but, on balance, it’s not too much of a risk to have him released to residential treatment.”

The judge ordered the parties to return in two weeks by which time a formal evaluation for a residential treatment program will have been completed.

The case continues.

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