I heard about the case from Joe [Smith]'s aunt and uncle, Pam and Henry Smith. They live in Costa Mesa and have been acting as Joe's guardians since the first of the year when Joe moved in with them. At the time, Joe was in the midst of probation for his role in tagging a building the year before. He was also given community service duty, which he has completed.
He says the store clerk began haranguing him and told him to get out of the store. The clerk later told police he had told Joe on a previous occasion never to come back, but Joe says he had never caused trouble and that the clerk may have confused him with other boys because they all tend to favor the buzz cut and baggy clothing associated with gang affiliation.
Joe says he told the clerk he planned to pay for the chili dog but that the clerk yelled at him and waved him out of the store. Joe told me he put the money on the counter but that the clerk brushed it off onto the floor while evicting him. The police report quotes the clerk as saying Joe never offered to pay. The report doesn't refer to any other conversation between Joe and the clerk.