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San Francisco gallery owner who sprayed homeless woman with hose gets community service

Collier Gwin, an art gallery owner in the Financial District, sprays water on an unhoused individual on Jan. 9, 2023. | Source: Courtesy @briochesf

An art gallery owner in San Francisco's Financial District facing battery charges concerning a filmed hose attack on a homeless woman agreed Monday to a pretrial diversion program.

Collier Gwin was seen in a January viral video spraying the woman outside Foster-Gwin Art & Antiques on Montgomery Street in the city’s Jackson Square. The attack drew attention to the issue of attacks against vulnerable unhoused San Francisco residents and tensions between business owners and the city’s homeless population.

While collecting evidence amid calling for public calm, police briefly stood guard outside the gallery as outrage spread online against the gallery owner. Later that month, after an arrest warrant was issued, Gwin was arrested and booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery before posting $2,500 bail.

After a mid-February court date was delayed to March, Gwin issued an expansive statement through a public relations firm.

Police guard Foster-Gwin Gallery in San Francisco's Financial District on Jan. 11, 2023. | Source: Julie Zigoris/The Standard

In choosing to participate in a pretrial diversion program, Gwin avoids a criminal record for the incident, a possible sentence of several months in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. 

Gwin must complete 35 hours of community service through Third Baptist Church at 1399 McAllister St. He must also abide by a protective order to stay away from his victim and can face new charges if he is arrested for any reason.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said Monday her office had asked for more community service time, but called Gwin's deal a sensible resolution and hoped he would "develop a greater understanding, respect, and empathy for the plight of unhoused people in our community."

Gwin's lawyer, Douglas L. Rappaport, echoed Jenkins’ sentiment, saying Monday the firestorm surrounding his client erupted from one of the hundreds of bad days that everyone has on occasion, only his was caught on video.

"It was an act of frustration that came after weeks of attempts to get police and social services agencies to help the mentally ill woman," Rappaport said. According to discovery in the case, in the 25 days before the incident, Rappaport said the city’s Department of Emergency Management received 50 calls from neighborhood residents and business people about unhoused residents’ behavior. The Standard reached out to the department shortly before this story's publication to confirm the claim with records, and will update it with its responses. 

Collier Gwin, owner of Foster-Gwin Gallery in San Francisco | Source: Courtesy Darren McKeeman

"Collier has paid a high price, with physical damage to his property and immense reputational damage from the video of the event," Rappaport said. "Sadly, there is no video, but there are many records of his and his neighbors' numerous attempts to assist the woman prior to this incident." 

Gwin also spoke Monday, repeating previous expressions of remorse and saying he looks forward to working with the church’s the Rev. Amos Brown.

“The City of San Francisco also should be held accountable,” Gwin said. “Regular citizens are not equipped to deal with these types of problems. At the very least, the city should provide safe and clean streets and sidewalks in exchange for our tax dollars. It is a minimal duty.”