Chollas View

Witnesses Testify in Gruesome Chollas View Road Rage Assault

Prosecutors presented security camera footage that they believe provides enough evidence to try 24-year-old Tantrina Spencer-Simmons

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A prosecutor with the District Attorney's office presented security camera footage before a judge on Tuesday in an effort to prove there is enough evidence to try a 24-year-old woman for a violent road rage hit-and-run incident in Chollas View in August.

The victim, 50-year-old, James Shank, is still in the hospital and has undergone 41 surgeries, so far, in connection to the road rage assault.

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) security cameras captured a car plowing over a man several times in August, dragging him around a nearby Chollas View apartment complex parking lot and then driving off.

In addition to the video footage, the prosecutor called at least two eyewitnesses to the stand. Both witnesses testified that they watched a woman with long hair kicking a little girl, then arguing with another tenant in the building, before running him over with her car.

During cross-examination, the defense poked holes in the prosecutor's testimony, stressing a language barrier since both eyewitnesses do not speak English, and thus, did not understand what the woman was saying.

The defense also questioned whether the witnesses could see the incident from their location from the building. Neither eyewitness could positively identify the defendant, 24-year-old Tantrina Spencer-Simmons, as the woman they witnessed the day of the assault.

In addition to the two eyewitnesses, the DA's office called Officer Shannon Cass to the stand, the first police officer to respond to the 9-1-1 call and interview the victim.

Cass described a gory crime scene. Cass told the courtroom she rode with the victim in the ambulance to the hospital, but could only take down a partial statement because the victim started screaming in agony and was in too much pain to continue.

Officer Cass also testified that she observed blood-stained drag marks in the parking lot, suggesting the victim had been dragged some distance before she found him.

In addition to witnesses at the scene, the prosecutor called in a victim who was involved in a similar incident a year prior. The prosecutor argued the testimony from this victim proves that the Chollas View incident was not isolated nor an accident -- and the defendant attempted to run someone over before.

Judge Michael Smyth overruled an objection by the defense and allowed the witness, Octavio Alvarez, to testify about the prior road rage incident.

Alvarez worked as a security guard for a parking garage at the time. He then positively identified Spencer-Simmons in the courtroom as the driver of a car parked at the garage.

Alvarez says he noticed the smell of marijuana coming from Spencer-Simmons' car. When she ignored repeated requests to leave the garage, she got agitated and violent. He testified that she hit him with the car door, smacked his phone out of his hand and damaged it, punched him in the mouth and knocked out a tooth before getting into her car and trying to run him over on her way out of the garage.

In their cross-examination, the defense argued the guard disobeyed his supervisor's instructions to leave Spencer-Simmons alone, harassed her verbally and pointed out the incident never resulted in any charges.

Previously, the prosecutor said Spencer-Simmons was beating her younger sister with a belt outside of the apartment where her younger sister lives when the victim. James Shank, tried to intervene.

Shank tried to get Spencer-Simmons to stop and called police. That's when, according to prosecutors, Spencer-Simmons ran Shank over multiple times on purpose with her SUV.

Tantrina Spencer-Simmons had pleaded not guilty to felony charges.

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