- Politics and Social Issues
Bank Robbery: The Criminal Case of Troy Barnes
This is a true story. The events that transpired happened in Oakland, California on August 21, 1998. I am familiar with the intimate details of this case because I was juror number four at the criminal trial. The drama went down in the morning hours of the above mentioned date when Troy Barnes, a 33 year old resident of Oakland, entered the Wells Fargo Bank on Fruitvale ave. Barnes walked up to a teller and brandished a 9mm handgun, demanding the teller to give him the fifty and one hundred dollar bills out of her register. The teller remained calm and did as she was told. Unbeknownst to Barnes, she slipped him a stack of fifty dollar bills that contained a ProNet electronic tracking device, designed to track bank robbers and the money. Once the tracking device leaves the bank it will start emitting a signal directly to patrol cars in the area. Barnes exited the bank and got into a red Toyota Cellica, driven by his cousin, and fled the scene. The tracking device activated and Patrol Cars started receiving a signal. Officer Roy Flecklin was one of the officers responding to the bank. He was six blocks out when his ProNet tracking responder started emitting a high tone indicating the suspect and money were in front of him. He continued toward the bank when the tone raised in volume and his display indicated the money was directly to his left while the tone was at its peak. The tone started to lower in volume and he noticed a car matching the description of the getaway vehicle passing him on his left. Officer Flecklin made a quick U turn and got behind the suspect vehicle. The ProNet responder was now emitting a high pitch tone as he and the car stopped at a red light. The light turned green and the car casually started rolling again. Officer Flecklin stayed idle in order to test the tracking device and sure enough, the tone started getting lower in volume as the suspect got further away. At this point Officer Flecklin knew he had the suspect vehicle. Three more patrol cars filed in behind Officer Flecklin and he called dispatch to clear the channel for a felony car stop in progress. The roof top lights came on and the suspect vehicle signaled and pulled over to the right side and stopped. Guns drawn, the officers called the driver out of the car first. While the driver was walking backward toward the officers voice, Barnes, the passenger, scooted over into the drivers seat and took off at a high rate of speed. The chase was on through Oakland streets, multiple police cars in pursuit. Barnes took the car on the freeway at 100 mph, in and out of traffic. Officers took the stand in court and testified that while Barns was on the freeway he was going through the money trying to find the tracking device so he could ditch it. He never could find the device so he decided to focus on his driving. Barnes took the Golf Links Road exit. By this time the Highway Patrol and Park Rangers were involved in the chase. Barnes turned into the a residential area and went to the top of a hill. Knowing he was trapped, Barnes hit the gas pedal and flew down the hill he just came up. He swerved at the bottom of the hill and ran right into a park rangers patrol car. It was a fierce accident and Barnes vehicle was totaled. Policemen were out, guns drawn and issuing verbal commands but Barnes would not surrender. Barnes lifted the 9mm pistol and yelled, "I aint going out like that." He racked the slide of his 9mm pistol and aimed it at an Oakland Police Officer. Then all hell broke out. Oakland Police opened up on Barnes, firing 52 shots and hitting Barnes 7 times.
Troy Barnes survived and the case went to trial in the year 2000. The trial lasted three weeks. I will never forget the bank teller, when she was on the stand. She was emotionally scarred from the incident. I remember the father who was at the bank with his child. The prosecutor asked,"What was the first thing you did when you saw that gun?" The father replied, "I turned to shield my daughter in case he was going to shoot." There were many witnesses like that who testified. I remember thinking of how many lives were changed that day. Usually, we read the paper and see a crime has been committed, maybe read the article and go on to the next article. We never really think about the people involved, how they were hurt. At the end of the trial the judge gave us our jury instructions and we deliberated for a day and a half. We felt the gravity of the case and we did not want to make any mistakes. We finally reached a verdict and it was read in court, guilty on all counts. The defense attorney asked that each juror be individually polled and we each stood up, one at a time and said yes to the guilty verdict. In the days that followed I learned that Troy Barnes was on parole for bank robbery while he committed the bank robbery we convicted him of. He had spent 11 years in prison and had only been out a short time before he pulled this heist. He was also a three strike case, which means in California if you get pinched for a third felony you are looking at 25 to life in state prison. It is no surprise when I read in the paper that the judge sentenced him to 75 years to life.