An alleged San Francisco pimp who was behind the wheel during a harrowing police pursuit that began on the Bay Bridge and ended with a fiery, fatal crash in Emeryville was charged with murder this week in the death of a female passenger, as well as kidnapping and human trafficking, prosecutors said.
Michael Brown, 42, remained hospitalized Thursday and was unable to show up for court four days after the chase that authorities said ended with bystanders and police dragging Brown from burning wreckage while a woman remained trapped and perished in the flames. A second, kidnapped woman — who had been stuffed into the car’s trunk — escaped before the crash, officials said.
Brown, who has a violent criminal history dating to 1996, was arrested at the scene and later charged with murder, domestic violence, assault, human trafficking, pimping, robbery, conspiracy, kidnapping and criminal threats.
The episode began in April when Brown enlisted the woman who ended up in the trunk as a sex worker, San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart wrote in court papers seeking to hold the defendant without bail. Brown would drop the woman off to do sex work, and would keep her cell phone and identification until she came back and gave him a cut of her take, prosecutors alleged.
On one occasion, when the woman failed to make enough money, Brown forced her to sleep outdoors, and in another instance punched her in the face, Swart wrote. The treatment prompted the victim to switch pimps.
On Sunday, prosecutors said, Brown and another sex worker, identified as Daphne Bailey, 40, told the victim they wanted to celebrate her birthday with a cake and a bag of cocaine. The meeting was actually a ploy to punish the woman for leaving Brown, Swart wrote.
After meeting at Turk and Leavenworth streets in the Tenderloin, Brown allegedly stuck the victim in the face, knocking her to the ground, before hitting her again and dragging her by the hair to the trunk of his nearby vehicle, where Bailey was waiting. Witnesses watched as the car sped off, and someone followed the vehicle before the driver stopped and let the victim out on Van Ness Avenue, officials said.
The second woman, though, “forcefully prevented” the victim from getting her belongings out of the trunk, slapped her hand and slammed the trunk shut, Swart said. Brown then sped off to the Bay Bridge, where officers spotted him around 3 p.m. and began a high-speed chase, police said.
While fleeing police, Brown lost control at West MacArthur Boulevard and Peralta Street in Emeryville, hit a car and spun into a light pole, causing the car to burst into flames, authorities said.
Bystanders and police pulled Brown from the wreckage, while Bailey remained trapped in the burning vehicle and died. A witness captured video of the aftermath of the crash and posted it on social media.
Evan Sernoffsky is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @EvanSernoffsky