EXCLUSIVE: Charges Dropped Against Fresno 99 Cent Store Stabbing Suspect, Security Video Released

An update to an Eyewitness News Investigation- a Fresno man who was accused of allegedly stabbing a 99 Cent Store clerk has been cleared of all charges.  The alleged crime happened in 2015 at the store on First and McKinley.  The suspect sat down exclusively with Eyewitness News back then, saying he was innocent and that the store's security video would prove it.  That video has since been shown to the district attorney's office, and Razo's case has been dismissed.


His name is finally cleared


Razo says, "Weight lifted off my shoulders."


A year and a half after being charged with assaulting and stabbing a 99 Cent Store employee, what 19 year old Joe Razo has been saying all along is now confirmed by both the courts and video evidence.


Razo says, "People will get to see that I'm obviously not a liar."


It happened in November of 2015 at the 99 Cent store on First and McKinley.  That's when Razo first shared his story only to Eyewitness News, promising that the store's security video would prove his innocence.  Now, it's been released and Eyewitness News has an exclusive look at the key piece of evidence.


"I looked at my mom and I was like, 'I told you. I told you I was right,' and I just hugged her and she cried."


The video shows Razo and his two cousins picking up groceries at the 99 Cent Store, when one of the men opened up a candy bar and started eating it.  He's then approached by a security guard and accused of trying to steal it.


"I honestly felt like it was just well they're hoodlums and they're trying to rob a store."


The video shows the security guard going into the back of the store and getting another employee.  Razo says a verbal confrontation ensues and the men are ordered out of the building.  You can see all three of them walking out as the store employee follows close behind. As soon as they step outside, the employee stabs Razo six times with a box cutter.


"It was scary.  I still am traumatized to this day," says Razo.


Razo's attorney Martin Taleisnik asked that we not air video of the actual attack, but did allow us to take still photos.  Outside cameras captured the end of the attack and all three men appear to be running from the situation.  It's an account which contradicts the original police report.


Razo says, "It was really stressful hearing all the stuff that people had to say and the police reports and all the negative things people had to say."


According to the police report, the store employee blamed Razo and his cousins for the attack, saying Razo pulled a knife on him first and he used his box cutter in self defense.  Razo admits to having a pocket knife but says it never came out of his pocket.  According to officers, multiple witnesses confirmed Razo and his cousins were the aggressors.  One officer stated he viewed the video surveillance and said it showed Razo attack the store employee, who then tried to defend himself.  We asked police about the discrepancy.  Chief Jerry Dyer released a statement saying, "Based on the totality of circumstances which include the evidence and statements from the victim and witnesses, officers felt it was appropriate to arrest the individuals."


"If a picture's worth a thousand words, a video's worth a million words and that video so to speak set Joe free," says Taleisnik.


Taleisnik says the video proves his client's innocence.  In August, the Fresno County District Attorney's Office agreed, dismissing all of Razo's charges, after viewing it.


Taleisnik says, "He was 100% truthful. He said watch the video and it will show the truth and it did."


Razo is now suing the 99 Cent Store, along with the employee and security guard who were involved in the incident.


"They're going to pay for what they did to me," says Razo.


According to police, both of Razo's cousins returned to the store the same night with a machete and the leg of a table.  They were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and for making terrorist threats.  The charges against them were dropped as well.

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