Former Fire Commissioner’s Alleged Attacker Released From Custody

Don Carmignani, the former San Francisco Fire Commissioner who was beaten, did not appear at a preliminary hearing. Therefore a suspect in the case was freed on Thursday. The 24-year-old suspect Garret Doty was ordered to be released on conditions, and the judge scheduled a new hearing date for May 23.

Dody is charged with striking Carmignani, 52, on April 5 with a metal rod, resulting in severe head injuries, including a cracked skull.

Carmignani and his mother reported three homeless people who had set up camp close to her home in San Francisco’s Marina District to 911 hours before the incident, alleging that they had threatened violence against his family.

This week, the case took an unexpected turn when Kleigh Hathaway, Doty’s public defender, informed reporters that her office had learned of a series of alleged instances involving Carmignani that all occurred within four blocks of his home.

Former Fire Commissioner's Alleged Attacker Released From Custody

Hathaway claimed that Carmignani had been striking homeless persons seemingly without cause.

A man who resembles Carmignani is seen in surveillance footage and photos released by the police and the district attorney’s office spraying bear spray at a person who appears to be asleep. The man seems to be spreading the person in the face.

Carmignani asserted in an exclusive interview with KPIX that he had been the victim of a vicious assault.

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

Carmignani did, however, acknowledge using bear spray on the day he was assaulted. “I used the spray as self-defense,” he said.

“It’s dismaying to find that the prosecutor is continuing with the prosecution in light of the fact that the district attorney and police now have reason to believe that Mr. Carmignani was involved in eight separate acts of violence,” Hathaway said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“These eight separate acts of violence were perpetrated against people who are homeless.”

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The hearing was postponed again on Thursday after two days. The court approved a plea to forward the date one day after Carmigiani failed to attend a hearing on Wednesday. The judge threatened to compel the prosecution to withdraw the charges if Carmignani was unable to appear in court.

In a statement to KPIX, Carmignani’s attorney denied that his client had been involved in any earlier attacks.

“This is just victim blaming plain and simple. Don was nearly beaten to death. There is no excuse for that. The videos of the attack on Don speak for themselves,” said attorney Samuel Ray.

“Don is a great guy, but his character is irrelevant. He is the victim of a crime. It is horrible that the media is trying to parade alleged incidents from the past as a reason why he somehow deserved what happened to him, or ‘had it coming.'”

Carmignani is cooperating with police officials, according to Ray, who claimed that his absence on Thursday was caused by the medication he is taking as a result of the attack.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Doty has been released and we hope he abides by the terms of the stay away order and appears at his next court date,” Ray added.

Because if Carmignani attends the hearing, he may expose himself to criminal prosecution as a potential suspect in earlier attacks, Hathaway said she believes Carmignani will never appear. The case against her client will be dismissed.

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