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San Francisco case that launched ‘Stop Asian Hate’ will go to trial date

Protesters hold the banner showing "Grandpa Vicha" in San Francisco on June 23, 2023.
Protesters hold up a banner for ‘Grandpa Vicha’ Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old San Francisco man whose 2021 death launched the ‘Stop Asian Hate’ movement. | Source: Han Li/The Standard

A high-profile case involving the death of a San Francisco senior will finally get a trial date.

Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai American immigrant man, was violently pushed to the ground in January 2021 while exercising in the city’s Anza Vista neighborhood. The fatal incident, which was caught on camera, made international news and sparked the national Stop Asian Hate movement. To this day, activists in the community remember Ratanapakdee as “Grandpa Vicha.”

At a court hearing Friday morning, a San Francisco judge agreed to reconvene in early February 2024 to set a trial date, which will likely be in late March—well over 1,000 days after the incident. 

Both the prosecutor and defense attorney have previously blamed each other for the long delay of the case citing more time needed for the investigation.

Monthanus Ratanapakdee, the daughter of the victim and an outspoken activist, said it’s frustrating the case has been stalled for so long.

“The delay in justice, as witnesses’ memories are vanishing, is exasperating,” she told The Standard after the court hearing.

She’s also preparing for the three-year anniversary event to commemorate her father’s death.

The defendant, 22-year-old Antoine Watson, also appeared at court. He has remained in custody since his arrest shortly after the incident and has been charged with murder and elder abuse.

His defense attorney, from the city’s Public Defender’s Office, has argued that Watson had no intention to kill and was under mental stress.

The case garnered much media attention, while Ratanapakdee has become the de facto face of the Stop Asian Hate movement that raised awareness of anti-Asian violence during the pandemic. In 2022, San Francisco renamed a street to honor Ratanapakdee.

Han Li can be reached at