A homeless man who brutally attacked the former San Francisco fire commissioner was found not guilty on all charges Friday.
Garret Doty, the now 25-year-old homeless man who was accused of beating 54-year-old Donald Carmignani repeatedly over the head with a metal pipe on April 5, faced two counts of assault and one count of battery.
Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway argued that Doty acted out of “fear for his life and fought back to protect himself.”
In a press release, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office said that Carmignani’s attorneys previously shared only “select video footage” from the incident-leaving out how the altercation began.
Doty’s defense attorneys argued that Carmignani instigated the altercation and sprayed the homeless man with bear spray and threatened to stab and kill him if he did not move his belongings.
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 Marina District.
The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office said that after Carmignani allegedly threatened Doty, he decided to arm himself with a metal rod he found in a garbage bin.
The public defender’s said that 15 minutes later, Carmignai, “stood against a building and baited Doty to come closer” before spraying him with bear spray and ensuring the violent altercation.
A previous video released by Carmignani show Doty marching towards him with the metal rod and repeatedly hitting him.
Following the violent attack, Carmignani had 51 stitches, a fractured skull and a broken jaw.
Deputy Public Defenders Kleigh Hathaway said that it was “clear to her” that Doty was acting in self-defense against Carmignani.
“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,” said Hathaway. “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.”
John Dennis, the Chairman of the San Francisco GOP, pointed to the city’s Democrat polices which put “residents under constant threat from street dwellers.”
“While San Francisco Republicans respect the judicial process, we’re disappointment 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.”
The public defense also argued that Carmignani had previously used pepper spray against homeless people in the area on eight separate occasions.
Carmignani did not testify in Doty’s trial, but he did testify during the preliminary hearing where he invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination whenever he was questioned about any prior use of pepper or bear spray, the press release from the public defense said.
The former city official and his mother previously said that despite calling local police regarding the encampment of homeless people, police did not respond.
“To my knowledge, neither SFPD nor any of the city’s various homeless service providers responded to our 911 calls that morning,” he said.
Throughout the day, Doty’s group continued to bother his mother and his girlfriend, using drugs in public and harassing pedestrians on the sidewalk.
“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.”
Carmignani said the group consisted of “known criminals” who have harassed area residents, vandalized property and have been seen using drugs in public.
“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,” he 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.”