Ex-San Francisco Fire Commissioner Accused of Spraying Homeless People With Mace

A man sprays bear mace in the face of a homeless person.InternationalIndiaAfricaA former San Francisco Fire Commissioner who was allegedly beaten with a metal pipe by a 24-year-old homeless man named Garret Doty is now being accused of spraying homeless people with bear mace.On April 5, in a case that made national headlines, Don Carmignani was struck with a metal pipe by an assailant outside of his mother’s home. His injuries required a multiple-day hospital stay where his jaw was wired shut and a metal plate put into his skull.Doty was arrested as the suspect a short time later. But things got more complicated when a prosecutor reportedly told Carmignani’s lawyers that the case would be dropped due to “new evidence” in the case.The District Attorney’s Office quickly shot down those claims but Doty’s lawyer, a public defender named Kleigh Hathaway, said the new evidence appears to be video footage and police reports of a man matching Carmignani’s description using pepper spray or bear mace on homeless people.The District Attorney’s Office blamed the miscommunication on a less-experienced attorney erroneously telling Carmignani’s attorneys that the charges would be dropped.The eight incidents occurred between November 2021 to January 2023 and all happened near Carmignani’s mother’s house in the Marina district in San Francisco, California.In one video from November, a man with a similar build to Carmignani wearing a baseball cap, medical mask and black jacket can be seen casually walking down the street holding a can of what appears to be bear mace. When the man approaches a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk, the man sprays him in the face for a few seconds and then continues walking away. Carmignani also had bear spray during the incident with Doty. A recently released video of that incident shows a man – allegedly Carmignani – chasing Doty while wearing a medical mask, a different baseball cap and a black jacket. Hathaway says the can in the November video appears to be “exactly like” the one Carmignani had during the incident with Doty.

Videos that were released to the public immediately after the incident but which occurred after the video that appears to show Carmignani chasing Doty with a can of bear mace, shows Doty chasing Carmignani, sans medical mask, with a metal pipe he retrieved from a trash can and striking him in the head with it.“I would say my client is acting in lawful self-defense,” Hathaway said in court, after expressing dismay that the case against Doty is continuing despite the accusations against Carmignani.However, Nick Colla, who represents Carmignani, has insisted his client is not the man in the videos attacking homeless people. “Our client vehemently denies that he is the alleged individual who is committing these acts against homeless people,” he said.Another lawyer who is said to be “close” to Carmignani told US media he did not believe Carmignani was the man in the video, explaining he saw a picture of the suspect and that it looked nothing like Carmignani.At a news conference, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said that her office plans to continue the case against Doty but noted he would have to be released from jail if the case does not proceed by Thursday. Jenkins said the hold-up in the case is that her office needs Carmignani to testify at the hearing. Jenkins has stated that Carmignani has not agreed to testify or speak to the police. “Without him present to testify, that created evidentiary problems for us,” Jenkins said.Carmignani has not been charged with a crime related to the attacks on homeless individuals, and the San Francisco Police Department has declined to confirm or deny they are investigating Carmignani in relation to the incidents.

In 2013, Carmignani resigned as San Francisco’s fire commissioner after he was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and criminal threats stemming from an incident reported by his then-wife.

He later pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to probation, a fine, counseling and was ordered to return several firearms.

Carmignani, who lasted only four months at the post, is also known as “Cannabis Don” and as of 2016 was the largest holder of medical marijuana licenses in the city.

Carmignani claimed in an earlier interview that he did not confront Doty with the intention of starting a fight. “I didn’t go out there to fight anyone,” he told US media. “I’m trying to get them down the road, go to the park.”Doty is facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon and battery causing serious bodily injury.


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