San Francisco jury finds homeless man not guilty in beating of businessman left with brain injury

Dec 22, 2023, 4:02 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco jury on Friday found a homeless man not guilty after being accused of using a metal pipe to beat a businessman who suffered a broken jaw, fractured skull and traumatic brain injury in an attack caught on video that fueled debate about crime and homelessness in the city.

Garret Doty, 25, was charged with three assault and battery charges for the April 5 beating of Don Carmignani. Doty pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said Doty beat Carmignani in an act of revenge. But Doty’s defense attorneys said he was acting in self-defense after Carmignani sprayed him with bear spray.

The attack on Carmignani, a businessman who served briefly on a Fire Department commission, happened two days after the stabbing death of Cash App founder Bob Lee.

Lee’s killing unleashed a wave of criticism against city officials by prominent tech leaders. Among the critics was tech billionaire Elon Musk, who took to Twitter to mourn Lee’s death and blame San Francisco for what he called the city’s lax attitude toward crime. A tech consultant is awaiting trial in Lee’s killing.

The attack on Carmignani fueled a narrative of a city in chaos. But Doty’s defense attorney argued Doty acted in self defense and released surveillance video showing Carmignani spraying Doty before he began chasing him while wielding a metal pipe.

Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway said Carmignani had repeatedly doused unhoused people, including Doty, with bear spray.

“Self-defense can be fierce, it can be effective and it can be disabling,” Hathaway said. “And why wouldn’t it be? You’re fighting for your life.”

In closing arguments Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Kourtney Bell conceded that Carmignani had a history of aggression, saying that he may have used bear spray on unhoused people in the Marina District on at least one occasion, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

A confrontation between Carmignani and Doty started after Doty and two others set up tents outside the home of Carmignani’s parents, who live next door to him in the upscale Marina District. Carmignani said in an interview with KPIX-TV that he had asked Doty to move away because they were blocking his parent’s entryway.

He said he called 911 but no one responded, so he went out to talk to the homeless people. and that the only thing he had on him was pepper spray.

“I didn’t go out there to fight anyone. I’m trying to get them down the road, go to the park,” Carmignani told the television station.

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San Francisco jury finds homeless man not guilty in beating of businessman left with brain injury