He didn't do it. And video (below) proves it.
So says the attorney of 54-year-old Sris Sinnathamby, who was accused of murder for allegedly ordering that a man open fire on a homeless 26-year-old who had camped out near the entrance of the defendant's hotel on the Venice boardwalk.
"Shoot those n——-s," a witness, using a racial epithet, had Sinnathamby saying before 29-year-old Francisco Guzman allegedly opened fire and killed Jascent Warren shortly after 2 a.m. on Aug. 30.
Video, below, appears to tell a different story. It was played in court multiple times and is now part of the public record in the case. This week a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge dismissed charges of murder and attempted murder (another homeless man was shot in a leg during the altercation) against Sinnathamby, though Guzman was ordered to stand trial.
The shooter stood off with Warren, known as Shakespeare, on and off for minutes at a time as Sinnathamby appeared to get between them to intervene.
Prosecutors said Guzman was a security guard at the hotel and that Sinnathamby and he were ordering homeless people sleeping near the building to scram.
Alan Jackson, Sinnathamby's defense attorney, told us the hotel owner didn't really know the alleged shooter — that the man had given him and two women a ride to the hotel that evening. He described the vehicle they were in as an Uber-style SUV.
Cops say Guzman is a Venice 13 gang meth dealer. Witnesses said he called out "Venice 13" during the confrontation.
Jackson said Sinnathamby did roust some homeless people that early morning. Guzman, he said, had followed him of his own accord, gotten into a beef with Warren, and allegedly fired warning shots toward the beach.
The hotel owner, he said, was trying to prevent violence by getting between the alleged shooter and Warren.
When the women got out of the SUV to check out the commotion, Sinnathamby's attention turned toward them, and Warren charged at Guzman, who allegedly opened fire, Jackson told us.
The gunman fled and Sinnathamby was beaten "within an inch of his life" by a few homeless people, Jackson said. Then he was arrested.
The argument against him seemed out of character. He was known to be helpful to the homeless who congregated near the circa-1914 Cadillac, on Dudley Avenue and Ocean Front Walk, witnesses told reporters after the attack.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Jackson said the hotel owner was ecstatic about the judge's decision this week. It was a yearlong nightmare for Sinnathamby, he said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office had no comment for us. But a spokeswoman said, "At this time" the case against Sinnathamby "will not be refiled."
Sinnathamby's lawyer said he would file a motion asking that his client be formally found innocent.