Crime in San Francisco isn’t exactly breaking news but what has happened over the past week has shocked even long-time city residents. Last Thursday, a famous private investigator named Jack Palladino was attacked after he took a photo of two men cruising through his neighborhood. They pulled up and one of them tried to steal the camera from him:
Palladino had rushed outside his home in the Haight last Thursday to take a picture of the gold Acura when the car turned around, pulled alongside him and a passenger attempted to wrestle the camera from the detective, according to court records and previous statements from his family.
He was dragged about 40 feet down the road when the Acura accelerated, with the passenger holding onto the camera strap still wrapped around the detective, prosecutors said. Palladino fell backward and struck his head, suffering a fractured skull.
Palladino’s first case was the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Over the years he worked for Courtney Love, Bill Clinton and helped a 14-year-old win an abuse lawsuit against Michael Jackson. Palladino died from his injuries Monday at the age of 76. And it turns out that last case he helped to solve was his own murder:
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said he plans to file murder charges against Lawrence Thomas, 24, of Pittsburg, and Tyjone Flournoy, 23, of San Francisco, once the medical examiner releases the cause of Palladino’s death later this week…
“As soon as we receive an official opinion from the medical examiner determining the cause of death, we plan to remove the ‘attempted’ and charge both men with murder,” Boudin said.
He said the photos Palladino took before his attackers fled in a car were used by police to track down Thomas and Flournoy, who were arrested over the weekend in San Francisco and Reno, Nevada, respectively. The last photo he took will be crucial evidence in the case, Boudin said.
As stupid and senseless as this crime was, there was another murder in San Francisco on the same day which was just as terrible. The apparently unprovoked attack on an 84-year-old man was caught on video.
— Evan Sernoffsky (@EvanSernoffsky) February 1, 2021
The victim was an 84-year-old man from Thailand named Vicha Ratanapakdee. His son in law has alleged the attack was prompted by anti-Asian racism:
Originally from Thailand, he was a nearly blind, gentle person beloved by his family. He was violently taken from them by a despicable 19-year-old thug that came to his neighborhood in a stolen vehicle and decided to prove how tough he was by brutalizing a senior citizen. Our family has endured multiple verbal Anti-Asian attacks since the beginning of the pandemic, this time it was Fatal.
Police haven’t said anything about a possible motive but they have arrested 19-year-old Antoine Watson and charged him with elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and murder. His 20-year-old accomplice who was in the car at the time was also arrested. As you can see in the clip, there was no attempt to rob Ratanapakdee. This is simply a violent attack on a man who can’t defend himself.
Perhaps because it was caught on video, this attack has enraged a lot of people. Yahoo News reports that an LA-based illustrator put out a drawing based on a photo of the victim and people are now adopting it on Twitter:
The two killings on the same day last week have even got local leaders talking tough on crime:
“How can anyone think of hurting a defenseless senior? And I want to be clear, you will be held accountable by the police as well as the D.A. There will be consequences,” said Mayor London Breed…
Police Chief Bill Scott read out loud the suspects’ names, “24-year-old Lawrence Thomas of Pittsburg and 23-year-old Tyjone Flournoy of San Francisco. Anyone who thinks San Francisco is an easy touch, you need to think twice.”
Yeah, it doesn’t sound that tough to me either but it’s about as tough as things get in San Francisco. Like most cities in the U.S., San Francisco has seen an uptick in vioelnt crime over the past year. If you can’t even protect elderly people on the street in the middle of the day, you’ve got a serious problem.