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Suspect in former San Francisco commissioner attack pleads not guilty

API community members gathered at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 to attend the preliminary hearing of Derrick Yearby, who attacked former city commissioner Greg Chew. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

The suspect in a felony assault case where a well-known former San Francisco city commissioner was brutally assaulted has entered a not guilty plea.

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

Yearby appeared Friday for a second hearing at the San Francisco Superior Court after an initial hearing on Wednesday where he spoke only briefly and was assigned a public defender.

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.

Chew attended the hearing via Zoom on Friday and read a prepared statement.

"Mr. Derrick Wayne Yearby, you attacked me," said Chew. “You should not be released for a long, long time.”

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 appeared in person with Deputy Public Defender Sierra Villaran, who entered his not guilty plea.

After Chew’s statement, Yearby responded, “is that an insult?”

Villaran later issued a statement to The Standard describing Yearby is a "vulnerable member of the community with many unmet needs," and asked the public to be more patient as the incident is under further investigation.

"We are working to assess what led to this distressing situation and to Mr. Yearby's arrest," said Villaran. "It is early on in this process and we expect more information to come to light."

Chew previously 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?”

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.”

The next court hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Han Li can be reached at