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Former commissioner demands hate crime charges after attack suspect charged with felony assault

Roger Moy (center) speaks at a rally outside the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, August 10, 2022. Moy and other API community members gathered to attend the preliminary hearing of Derrick Yearby, who allegedly attacked former city commissioner Greg Chew. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

The suspect in a high-profile attack on an Asian American former city commissioner will not face hate crime charges after he appeared at the San Francisco Superior Court for an initial hearing. 

Derrick Yearby, 34, is charged with felony assault, battery, and felony elder abuse by the District Attorney’s Office. 

The victim of the attack has now demanded that a hate crime charge or enhancement be filed in the case.

Former city commissioner Greg Chew was attacked on Aug, 2, 2022. In the attack, Chew suffered a cut to his face, swelling and bruising to the face, and a fractured left clavicle, according to the DA’s Office. Courtesy Greg Chew

Yearby is accused of assaulting the well-known 70-year-old former political appointee Greg Chew on Aug, 2. In the attack, Chew suffered a cut to his face, swelling and bruising to the face, and a fractured left clavicle, according to the DA’s Office.

In a brief court appearance, Judge Christine Van Aken asked Yearby if he could afford a private lawyer before assigning a public defender to him.

Chew attended the hearing via Zoom on Wednesday and had prepared a statement, but the hearing was rescheduled for Friday. He plans to attend again via Zoom at the next hearing to read his statement.

Judge Christine Van Aken presides over the preliminary hearing of Derrick Yearby at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

Speaking on the phone after the hearing, Chew told The Standard he wants the police to further investigate and for the DA’s Office to file hate crime charges against Yearby, as he believes the violence against him was racially motivated.

“Why did he come beat me, break my face, break my shoulder?” Chew asked. “Did he pick me up because I am Asian, Chinese, and old?”

Chew’s case and another violent attack on a 70-year-old Asian female, which happened on July 31, are the latest incidents against Asian seniors since the new DA Brooke Jenkins took office. Both incidents prompted a rally on Sunday to call for protection and justice for elders.

A dozen community members visited the court Wednesday afternoon in support of Chew, many in attendance also believe he was targeted because of his race.

But District Attorney spokesperson Randy Quezada said there is insufficient evidence to support a hate crime charge.

He acknowledged the trend of attacks on vulnerable, elderly people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, but in this case, the evidence presented to them “does not indicate a specific motive for the attack as required by the hate crime statute.”

DA Brooke Jenkins has been a vocal critic of ousted DA Boudin's handling of Asian victim cases. A month ago, she visited Chinatown and said she will review those high-profile cases involving Asian victims to see if they are "properly charged."

Chew's case will have the initial arraignment hearing again this Friday, while Yearby will remain in custody.