Ex-Fire Commissioner Accused of Attacking Homeless People

San Francisco public defender: Don Carmignani may be behind as many as 8 attacks
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2023 9:35 AM CDT

Earlier this month, Don Carmignani, San Francisco's ex-fire commissioner, was brutally attacked in the city's Marina District, with cellphone video showing him being beaten by another man wielding some sort of metal weapon. Garret Allen Doty, a 24-year-old homeless man, was arrested in the case and now faces multiple felony charges. However, Doty's public defender says the attack was actually self-defense, and that new evidence has emerged showing Carmignani may be behind a string of unsolved attacks against San Francisco's homeless community, reports KGO.

Carmignani, 52, was beaten so badly with a metal rod during the April 5 incident that he ended up with serious head injuries, including a fractured skull. Per CBS News, he says he and his mother called 911 just hours before the attack to report three homeless people had set up a camp outside his mother's home and threatened them. Carmignani says no law enforcement ever showed, and that the attack was spurred when he asked the group to leave. However, public defender Kleigh Hathaway now says her client, Doty, was only trying to protect himself after Carmignani had gone after him with bear spray, and that Carmignani may actually be behind as many as eight other similar attacks on homeless people around the city, all within four blocks of Carmignani's home.

KPIX has video that Hathaway alleges shows Carmignani aggressively turning his can of bear spray on a man sleeping on the sidewalk in November 2021. He did so "not just passing by, but focusing on the victim's face," Hathaway says, calling the video "shocking," per KGO. She adds that her office was given this new evidence by police and the district attorney because they thought Carmignani might be tied to the unsolved attacks. Carmignani, for his part, tells the station that it isn't him in that video, and that he wasn't the one who instigated the April 5 attack. "I used the spray as self-defense," he says.

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Carmignani wasn't in court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing in the case against Doty, and the judge noted that if Carmignani doesn't show in court on Thursday, he'll order prosecutors to drop the case, per CBS. Meanwhile, Doty could face up to seven years behind bars if he's convicted of the charges against him, which include assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with serious bodily injury, and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury. (More homeless stories.)

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