Charges Dropped Against Homeless Man Who Beat Former San Francisco Fire Commissioner With Crowbar

The ex-commissioner may now himself face charges, as he had sprayed his assailant with pepper spray prior to the attack.

Kehn Hermano/
San Francisco. Kehn Hermano/

The San Francisco district attorney’s office has dropped charges against a homeless man who beat the city’s former fire commissioner, and is now considering prosecuting the victim himself. 

The former commissioner, Don Carmignani, told CBS News in an interview that his lawyers were informed that the charges had been dismissed against his attacker, Garret Alen Doty. A harrowing video shows Mr. Doty savagely beating Mr. Carmignani in the city’s Marina district with a crowbar.

Mr. Camignani says the decision came after prosecutors discovered he had used pepper spray on Mr. Doty before the attack began. Mr. Carmignani claims that three homeless individuals had set up an encampment outside of his mother’s house, and when police and mental health services refused to move the three individuals, he decided to ask them to leave himself. After asking, Mr. Doty allegedly became aggressive, leading Mr. Carmignani to use pepper spray on him. 

In home security camera footage obtained by the San Francisco Standard, a man who is allegedly Mr. Carmignani can be seen walking up to a person sleeping on the sidewalk, spraying what appears to be pepper spray, and leaving briskly.

“My daughter and her friends carry spray,” Mr. Carmignani told CBS News. “What if it was one of them when you have animals in the street saying they are going to rape your daughter and kill your mother and you have nothing to do or help?”

“I didn’t go out there to fight anyone. I’m trying to get them down the road, go to the park,” Mr. Carmignani said about the attack, which occurred earlier this month. “It’s three-on-one. I know odds. I’m 52 years old. I have two hip replacements. I’m an old guy, I could have been a dead guy.”

Mr. Carmignani suffered a fractured skull, broken jaw, required more than 50 stitches, and spent a few days in the intensive care unit. 

The city is considering charging Mr. Carmignani despite surveillance video that shows Mr. Doty taking the crowbar out of the trash and taking practice swings before the attack.

In San Francisco, overall crime is down by 10 percent since this time last year and has historically maintained crime levels below the national average. That hasn’t stopped a perception that certain kinds of crime, especially by vagrants, is out of control. Mr. Carmignani says a lack of prosecution of the crimes that do happen are just going to lead to further decay in his home city. 

One San Francisco law enforcement official told the New York Post that elected leaders are to blame for letting violent people like Mr. Doty out of prison.

“We live in a city where both the mayor and the district attorney are elected. Their re-election is very much tied to public perception of crime and safety,” the source told the Post. “They have a vested interest in changing the narrative to make it appear that crime is not random.The city should stop politicizing public safety and instead focus on doing their job of making San Francisco a safe and livable City for everyone.”

The New York Sun

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