Former SF fire commissioner attacked with pipe accused of using bear spray on homeless people

A former San Francisco fire commissioner, who was beaten with a metal rod, is facing backlash after the public defender's office released videos and information claiming he used bear spray on unhoused people eight times.

Don Carmignani was brutally attacked with a pipe near his mother's house in San Francisco's Marina neighborhood on April 5. He suffered a fractured skull and broken jaw. 

Garret Doty, an unhoused man, was arrested for the assault. But now his lawyer wants the charges against Doty dropped, claiming self-defense. 

According to the San Francisco Public Defender's office, the two men got into an argument after a security video shows Carmignani approaching Doty first. A witness told police she heard Carmignani threaten to stab and kill Doty. 

It's later that Doty's lawyer said the attack occurred against Carmignani with a pipe.

But the public defender's office is alleging it was not the first time Carmignani provoked an attack against unhoused people. 

Officials said Carmignani matched the physical description, in which a man in the Marina area bear or pepper sprayed unhoused people, eight different times dating back to November 2021. 

The public defender's office is asking San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins to drop charges against Doty. 

Doty faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with serious bodily injury and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.

Jenkins vowed to prosecute Doty for the attack, though Carmignani's own lawyers said Doty's charges would be dropped based on new evidence.

"Whether or not we can prove Mr. Doty is guilty comes down to the actions that took place at the time of the incident not something before that," Jenkins said. 

The district attorney said she saw a video of an unidentified man spraying an unhoused resident with bear spray. Jenkins said no other incidents were initially brought to her office suggesting prosecution.

On Wednesday, the preliminary hearing for Doty was delayed, and Carmignani did not show up in court.

Jenkins said Carmignani has not done any interviews with police or prosecutors, and officials don't know why. She said if he does not testify in the preliminary hearing, Doty will be released from jail but it doesn't mean the charges will be dismissed. 

A friend of Carmignani's told KTVU he will likely be disabled life.

Carmignani's lawyers said their client denies being the man in the video using bear spray or targeting those living on the streets, including Doty. 

A preliminary hearing for the case is scheduled for Thursday morning.