Last week a woman in San Francisco named Paneez Kosarian was violently attacked by a deranged homeless man named Austin Vincent. Kosarian and a lot of other people were stunned when, days after the attack, Vincent was sent into a pretrial diversion program and released. A public backlash built against the judge who made that decision, fueled in part by the victim herself tweeting a video of the attack to Gov. Newsom.
Within hours, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and others had condemned the judge’s decision. And suddenly the judge herself had a change of heart, claiming she had seen a video of the attack on TV while eating lunch. She required that Vincent be given an ankle monitor.
While all of this was happening last week, the prosecutor’s office was vigorously protesting innocence. In tweets and statements to the media, the prosecutor’s office claimed it had strongly urged the judge to jail Austin Vincent from the start. But KRON 4 News got a transcript of the court proceeding and found that wasn’t really the case. Yes, the prosecutor did recommend jail for Vincent, but only in the mildest possible way.
A transcript of that initial arraignment obtained by KRON 4 indicates while against Vincent’s release, the district attorney’s office didn’t put up a fight.
In fact when the judge asks the prosecutor if she’s missing anything, the prosecutor makes no mention of the video and seems unfamiliar with the police report.
“The terror of this incident is clearly not communicated to the judge having reviewed the transcript,” says Suzy Loftus, candidate for San Francisco District Attorney…
“The DA’s Office doesn’t even use the words ‘I object to the release’ and that is really troubling because the prosecutor is the person in court whose job it is to do justice,” she said.
Monday we learned that at least two other people had contacted police claiming they were also attacked by Austin Vincent. The calls came after the victims recognized his mugshot on TV. Vincent agreed to surrender himself and was finally put in jail where he belongs.
The lesson here is that it’s not just San Francisco judges that are keeping homeless drug addicts on the streets, it also appears to be a lackadaisical prosecutor’s office which put minimum effort into this case until it blew up on social media. If prosecutors had displayed as much initiative in handling Vincent’s case as they did in defending themselves, he would never have been released in the first place.
Here’s KRON 4’s video report on the transcript: