Victim in brutal beating shares story with KTVU as San Francisco D.A. files felony charges

A San Francisco community leader says when he saw two homeless men, one half naked, in the backyard of the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, he took action, asking the men to leave before children at the center saw them, but ended up getting brutally beaten in the head.

The center's executive director James Spingola shared his story with KTVU, describing how he approached the men.

"I went back there and told them you have to actually leave, you know, I said it's not okay for you to be back here," said Spingola, "You can't be behind a community center with your pants down with drugs on you."

Spingola says that's when he was attacked and beaten by one of the suspects around 11 a.m. Friday.

"He just smacked me with a 2x4 and I felt myself going out, and then I turned around and got smacked in the eyes," said Spingola.

A photo of Spingola showing the serious injuries to his eyes, face, and head was posted on a Gofundme website by friends hoping to help raise money for Spingola's medical treatment.

"He was in the emergency ward and I hope he doesn't lose his eye. But this brother was brutally beaten," said Rev. Amos Brown, President of the NAACP San Francisco Chapter.

Rev. Brown says churches and community centers in the neighborhood have been neglected by the city and left to deal with drug users and certain homeless people who don't respect the neighborhood.

"We deserve peace, not violence. We deserve respect, not neglect," said Rev. Brown, "I think it's time we work together. When the Black community succeeds, the whole community succeeds."

On Tuesday, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins filed felony charges against the suspect in custody, 24-year-old Nelson Martinez, for assault with a deadly weapon and causing great bodily harm.

"We've got to do better about holding violent offenders accountable. We can't leave victims vulnerable without someone ensuring there is justice on the other end," said Jenkins.

The District Attorney added that while she wants to send a message to violent offenders, there needs to be more action by city and community partners.

"This is going to take a unified sort of approach with many city agencies working to provide people with housing," said Jenkins, "This is not going to be as simple as prosecuting them for crimes."

Spingola says this is not the first time he's had to ask people to leave or found drug users on the center's property.

He says he wants some action to protect children and residents in the community.

"It's happening all over San Francisco and at some point you have to say enough is enough. You know? At what point do we say enough is enough?"