December 25, 2023

San Francisco Jury Acquits Homeless Man Who Assaulted Fire Officer

A San Francisco jury acquitted Garret Doty, a homeless man, of assault charges on Friday. Doty claimed self-defense in his April altercation with former fire department official Don Carmignani.

The trial revealed that Carmignani had initiated the confrontation by spraying Doty with bear spray.

The incident unfolded when Carmignani clashed with Doty over camping near his Marina District residence. The defense argued that Carmignani had a history of unprovoked pepper or bear-spraying incidents against homeless individuals in the city.

A video from November 2021, showing such an attack, led Carmignani's mother-in-law to testify that the perpetrator resembled him.

Deputy public defender Kleigh Hathaway emphasized that self-defense becomes intense when individuals, particularly unhoused people like Doty, feel a heightened fear response due to constant exposure.

Doty responded to Carmignani's aggression by striking him with a metal pipe, resulting in a broken jaw, fractured skull, and traumatic brain injury.

Despite Carmignani not facing charges for the spraying incidents, juror Mike Brophy stated that the alleged connection to those attacks was "damning."

Brophy expressed concern about the city seeming like an apologist for a known belligerent and vigilante. Doty, planning to return to his home state of Louisiana, was found not guilty on all charges. The jury's decision to find Garret Doty not guilty on assault charges underscored the complex dynamics of the case.

Doty's claim of self-defense resonated with the jury, especially as evidence emerged of Don Carmignani's alleged involvement in unprovoked bear-spraying incidents targeting homeless individuals across the city.

Deputy public defender Kleigh Hathaway shed light on the challenges faced by unhoused individuals like Doty, emphasizing that self-defense becomes heightened due to the constant exposure and survival mode triggered by fear responses.

The trial brought attention to the broader issue of vigilante behavior, with the defense presenting Carmignani as a known belligerent involved in confrontations with homeless people.

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