Abdul Walid Hamid pled not guilty Thursday morning to charges of battery, grand theft, exhibition of a deadly weapon and a possible hate crime.
Police arrested the 22-year-old Hayward man Nov. 4 after he reportedly robbed a person and scared others at Stoneridge Shopping Center.
Hamid's family posted bail, which was set at $27,000 bail, following an arraignment Tuesday. He is scheduled to appear for a pretrial at 9 a.m. Dec. 17 in department 703 of the Pleasanton court house.
Calling it a bizarre case, Deputy District Attorney Ronda Theisen asked that Hamid be ordered to stay out of the mall.
According to reports, Hamid was yelling "Allah is power" and "Islam is great" while holding a pen in a fist over his head and witnesses said he had been shouting anti-Christian comments.
Lt. Mike Elerick of the Pleasanton Police Department said the man was not provoked and didn't threaten violence, but he committed robbery when he grabbed and broke a crucifix off a person's neck.
Hamid's family members, who declined to give their names, say it was all a misunderstanding. Outside the courtroom, they said Hamid was provoked when the customer with the necklace reportedly called him a derogatory name. They said Hamid put his hand on the customer's shoulder, asking the person not to use that word. When the customer pulled away, the family said Hamid's hand came into contact with the necklace and it accidentally broke.
His family also said that he's only been in the country a few months and is still learning the language and the laws.
Co-workers told police that Hamid's actions were out of the ordinary. Police also said they weren't aware of a prior criminal history for the man.
"We had multiple people calling 911," Elerick said. "One female was crouching down and hiding from him. He definitely scared quite a few people."
After Hamid's arrest, he was taken to John George Hospital in San Leandro for a psychiatric evaluation.
Elerick said much of the man's speech was similar to the loud scene of the Christian activists who frequent downtown Pleasanton. The big differences, however, is that Hamid was on private property and had physical contact with someone.