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Unhoused man acquitted in attack against former San Francisco city official

By Cindy Von Quednow, CNN

(CNN) — A jury in San Francisco has acquitted a man who was accused of assaulting a former city official with a metal pipe earlier this year, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and his public defender confirmed to CNN Friday.

Garret Doty, 25, was found not guilty of three felony assault and battery charges stemming from an incident in early April.

Doty, who is unhoused, was accused of using a metal pipe to attack former San Francisco Fire Department Commissioner Don Carmignani. Doty’s public defender, Kleigh Hathaway, had released surveillance video that she said showed Carmignani attacking Doty with bear spray minutes before Carmignani was attacked with the pipe.

Hathaway said her client was not the aggressor, and he was protecting himself from Carmignani, who she says had targeted several homeless people, including Doty, with bear spray.

In a news release Friday, Hathaway said her client was “in fear for his life and fought back to protect himself.”

CNN has reached out to Carmignani’s attorney for comment.

Evidence and testimony presented during the trial showed that Carmignani went after her client with bear spray and threatened to stab and kill him if he didn’t move his belongings within a certain time frame, Hathaway said.

Doty tried to move his belongings while also obtaining a metal rod from a garbage bin for protection, Hathaway said. The former fire official then returned after 15 minutes and “baited Doty to come closer before spraying him again and instigating the ensuing altercation,” she detailed.

“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. “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.”

On April 5, Carmignani called 911 to report three homeless people in an encampment outside his mother’s home in the city’s affluent Marina neighborhood, he told CNN in a statement at the time.

“That evening, I arrived at my Mother’s house and asked these individuals to leave,” Carmignani said in the April statement. “The incident culminated with one of the individuals producing a piece of metal pipe and striking me several times on the head.”

Carmignani was later hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery, his statement said.

Doty’s public defender told reporters in April that Doty’s case is one of self-defense, in part because there appears to be a repeated pattern of someone with Carmignani’s description allegedly attacking homeless people with bear spray in a four-block span of his home between November 2021 and January 2023, based on police reports given to her by the DA’s office and police.

“In all of them, the victims are not housed, the victims are either asleep in their tents, sitting on a bench, minding their own business,” Hathaway said at the time, citing police reports regarding eight separate attacks on homeless people that were included in the discovery evidence she received.

At the time, Carmignani denied that he was the person in the videos of the bear spray attacks and said he did not commit any of the attacks.

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