Homeless man declared not guilty after pipe attack on San Francisco fire commissioner

When now 25-year-old Garret Doty, a San Francisco homeless man, beat the city’s former fire commissioner, Donald Carmignani, 54, over the head with a metal pipe on April 5, Carmignani was left with a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and the need for 51 stitches.

On Friday, it was deemed that Doty was acting in self-defense. He was found not guilty on all charges — two assault counts and one count of battery.

Video of Doty’s attack on Carmignani outside a Marina District gas station, released by the former commissioner’s attorneys, is brutal. Doty can be seen retrieving the metal pipe from a dumpster and giving it a few practice swings.

During the attack, Carmignani has his hands up, trying to defend himself against the blows. The armed Doty chased him for two city blocks.

(Video: YouTube)

But, according to Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway, Doty acted out of “fear for his life and fought back to protect himself.”

Carmignani’s attorneys, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office stated in a press release, shared only “select video footage” of the altercation and failed to show its beginning.

“Carmignani previously said that three homeless people had set up an encampment near his mother’s front door, and she was afraid to leave her house in [the] Marina District,” Fox News Digital reports.

Video emerged of Carmignani appearing to spray Doty with bear spray as he passed him on the street. Doty’s defense attorneys argued that Carmignani threatened to stab and kill the homeless man if he didn’t pack up his belongings and move somewhere else.

It was this incident, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office said, that prompted Doty to retrieve the metal rod from the garbage for protection.

Fifteen minutes later, they said, Carmignani “stood against a building and baited Doty to come closer” before dousing him in the bear spray.

According to SABRE, a company that specializes in personal safety, “Bear spray should only be deployed against bears because bear sprays can contain up to 2.0% Major Capsaicinoids, making it much more potent and effective.”

“From the beginning, it was clear to me that Mr. Doty was acting in self-defense against Mr. Carmignani, who not only had the audacity to attack Mr. Doty with bear spray and then threatened to stab and kill Mr. Doty, but also presented himself as unwilling to back down from a fight that he had started,” Hathaway said, according to Fox News Digital. “Self-defense can be fierce because the brain goes into survival mode, and that fear response is sadly heightened for unhoused people, like Mr. Doty, who live in constant exposure.”

San Francisco GOP Chairman John Dennis says the Doty verdict “assures” this kind of attack “will happen again.”

He noted that, given the progressive city’s policies, San Franciscans are “under constant threat from street dwellers.”

“While San Francisco Republicans respect the judicial process, we’re [disappointed] that this violent act against a respected lifelong resident will go unpunished,” Dennis said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “San Francisco Democrat policies have put residents under constant threat from street dwellers. The outcome of this trial assures this sort of attack will happen again.”

According to the public defender’s office, Carmignani had used pepper spray against local homeless people on eight separate occasions.

When asked about his prior use of pepper or bear sprays during the preliminary hearing, Carmignani, who didn’t testify at the trial, took the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, the public defenders said in the press release.

Carmignani did, however, say that, despite several calls to the local police department about the encampment outside his mother’s home, “To my knowledge, neither SFPD nor any of the city’s various homeless service providers responded to our 911 calls that morning.”

“My family has had prior interactions with these individuals, who have made repeated threats of violence to my family members,” he said. “As a result, my mother did not feel safe leaving her home.”

“As a native San Franciscan and lifelong Marina District resident, I firmly believe that the city needs to promote the safety of its law-abiding citizens over those who chose to do drugs and commit violent acts in our streets,” Carmignani said. “I am hopeful that this unfortunate incident will lead to policy changes to better protect the interests of San Francisco residents and that my attackers will be fully prosecuted.”

Melissa Fine


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