California Man Charged With Kidnapping Ends Up With Probation on Gun Charge

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Overly generous plea bargains are, sadly, an all-too-common feature of our judicial system, but a recent case out of Oakland, California is particularly disturbing. 33-year-old David Salazar was originally charged with kidnapping back in August after an 18-year-old woman told police she’d been abducted at gunpoint and threatened for allegedly stealing $11,000 from him. An eyewitness reported the abduction to police, who were able to track the car used in the kidnapping via helicopter. The two other suspects bailed out of the car and to date have not been arrested, but Salazar was taken into custody and charged with the felony-level offense.


Instead of going to trial, prosecutors floated a plea bargain to Salazar, and given the terms offered he would have been crazy not to accept it. He doesn’t have to worry about a lengthy prison stay any longer, because he’s walking away with probation.

David Salazar, 33, of Oakland, pleaded no contest to carrying a concealed weapon, and was sentenced to credit for time he’s already spent in jail and two years felony probation, court records show. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped kidnapping and criminal threats charges against him.

A report filed in court by a probation officer agrees that Salazar is a suitable candidate for probation despite the allegations of a violent offense.

“This matter is his first felony conviction, he reports gainful employment, stable housing and family support,” the report says, adding that he also needs to address his “abuse of alcoholic beverages.”

A filing by Salazar’s attorney says that when police arrived to arrest him, Salazar was just walking with the woman and did not have his hands on her, although police found a gun in his pants. The attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sarah Grenfell, added that the victim “played an active role in this case” by stealing from Salazar days earlier.


I’d like to know why Salazar was even offered this deal in the first place. While his attorney says Salazar was walking with the alleged victim when police encountered them, there were multiple eyewitnesses (including the victim herself) who could place Salazar at the scene of the abduction. Salazar even acknowledged knowing the woman who says she was kidnapped in an interview with police, though he claimed she was with him of her own accord when police caught up with them.

According to Oakland police, the woman was standing near International Boulevard and 13th Avenue around 5 p.m. on July 28, when a 2000s model Acura pulled up with three men inside, who forced her into the car at gunpoint. One of her friends witnessed the incident and called police, who then began tracking the car with help from a helicopter.

Meanwhile, the woman inside the Acura later reported that the three men drove her around Oakland, threatening to kill her or take her to Mexico and Los Angeles and leave her there, according to police. They made several stops along the way, before pulling up at a Walgreens on Courtland Avenue, police say.

There, the suspects got wind that police were following them and two of them fled, leaving Salazar alone with the woman. He was walking with her away from the Acura when officers arrested him and rescued her a short distance away from the store, according to police.

In a subsequent police interview, Salazar admitted to picking the woman up and bringing her home, and accused her of stealing his cellphone and using it to drain $11,000 out of his bank account, authorities say. He allegedly denied involvement in the kidnapping — insisting the woman went with him willingly — and claimed he kept a pistol with him for protection, not a nefarious purpose.


The case against Salazar may not have been a slam dunk, but it sounds strong enough to let a jury decide whether or not he was guilty. Frankly, even if the woman in question had emptied his bank account of $11,000, that didn’t give Salazar the right to abduct her until she returned the cash.

For whatever reason prosecutors decided not to take their chances with a jury, even though the plea deal meant that Salazar would essentially walk free after just a short stay behind bars while the charges were pending. Salazar may have admitted to violating one of California’s numerous gun control laws, but that’s a small price to pay for avoiding the possibility of spending years in prison.

There’s a lot to be concerned with here, including the fact that simply carrying a concealed firearm without a license is a felony in California when it’s perfectly legal in more than half the country. I can’t help but wonder if prosecutors will be just as generous with their offers if and when someone is pinched for carrying in one of the numerous new “gun-free zones” that will come into effect starting on January 1, even if they have a carry license. I tend to doubt it, but we’ll probably have a chance to find out before long.


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