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Ex-San Francisco fire commissioner tells police he’s been ‘terrorized’ by homeless people since attack

A man in a cap and mask, pushing a walker, stands in a beige hallway.
Don Carmignani leaves a courtroom at the Hall of Justice on Tuesday. | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

The former San Francisco official whose alleged beating by a homeless person led to accusations that he had repeatedly bear-sprayed people sleeping on the street has finally broken his silence with police.

Don Carmignani, a 53-year-old businessman who once served on the San Francisco Fire Commission for six months, spoke with a police sergeant investigating his beating in a May 15 interview more than a month after his attack, according to the defense attorney for the man accused of beating him with a metal rod. Carmignani initially declined to speak with authorities or come to court, citing health concerns.

In his interview, Carmignani told police that he was “continuing to be terrorized” by a group of homeless people in his Marina District neighborhood after he was struck over the head near Laguna and Magnolia streets on April 5, the defense attorney, Kleigh Hathaway, said in court on Tuesday.

The revelations by Hathaway are the latest news in the high-profile assault and battery case against her client, 24-year-old Garrett Doty.  The case was initially framed as the latest example of lawlessness and disorder in San Francisco, but was later complicated by allegations from the defense that Carmignani may have bear-sprayed homeless people on numerous occasions since November 2021.

Carmignani denied those allegations.

Two people stand near the entrance of a courtroom, one wearing a mask, with signage above and beside them.
Garrett Doty stands near a courtroom at the Hall of Justice on Tuesday. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

There now appears to be a dispute over who has been “terrorizing” Carmignani since the beating and whether Doty was among those harassing him.

Carmignani said “that he is continuing to be terrorized by ‘them,’” Hathaway said in court. “‘Them’ doesn’t include my client.”

Hathaway asked a San Francisco Superior Court judge to direct prosecutors to gather and release any police reports that may have documented the alleged harassment. The judge, Loretta Giorgi, granted her request.

Hathaway’s representations of the statements Carmignani made to police may offer a glimpse at his anticipated testimony later this week.

Carmignani came to the Hall of Justice on Tuesday morning, apparently ready to testify against Doty at his preliminary hearing. Carmignani appeared frail and used a walker to assist him after suffering a broken jaw and fractured skull in the attack, his attorney previously told The Standard.

Doty, who was released from jail on April 27 because Carmignani was not previously available to testify, also showed up at court. He wore a knit cap, black sweater and red polo shirt, his long brown hair hanging below his shoulders. The two men briefly stood by each other outside a courtroom before the hearing was ultimately delayed until Wednesday.

Among the other revelations to come out of court Tuesday was that an attorney for Carmignani sent police photographs that may incriminate Doty. The cellphone photos purportedly show a person, identified as Doty, wearing ski goggles and who Carmignani accused of robbing people, according to Hathaway. She did not elaborate on how the photos were considered relevant to the case.

Both Carmignani and Doty declined to speak with The Standard. Carmignani’s attorney, John Cox, did not return a follow-up inquiry.