SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The victim of an early Sunday morning assault outside the lobby of her building in San Francisco was shocked and angry to learn Wednesday morning her attacker had been released from custody.
The suspect, identified by police as 25-year-old Austin James Vincent, was taken into custody near the Embarcadero around 2 a.m. Sunday after assaulting San Francisco resident Paneez Kosarian outside the lobby of her condo building known as the Watermark. The building is located near Beale and Bryant Streets.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s office charged Vincent on Tuesday with two felony counts of false imprisonment and attempted robbery and two misdemeanor counts of battery. Vincent entered not guilty pleas on all charges and, despite concerns expressed by prosecutors, the court released him Wednesday morning without electronic monitoring.
Kosarian said she received a call Wednesday morning from the San Francisco District Attorney’s office telling her the suspect in her attack had been released from custody.
“I mean, I’m shocked. I’m scared. Terrified,” Kosarian told KPIX. “I don’t understand what more it takes for the city and the judge to understand that this man is a danger to our society, our community, other residents.”
Vincent was given an order to stay-away from Kosarian’s building.
“100 feet away from my house,” said Kosarian. “So pretty much I am a prisoner in my own house. I’m terrified of leaving my own house while this man roams our streets freely.”
The San Francisco District Attorney’s office issued a statement, saying “The court released the defendant over our objection and contrary to the release recommendation of the public safety assessment tool on assertive case management.”
“I’m surprised that he was released on his own recognizance with very few limitations,” said Nancy Tung, a former San Francisco prosecutor who is now running for district attorney. She also questioned why Vincent, who has no known address, was released without any kind of electronic monitoring.
“It appears that there is some risk to public safety and a risk the guy won’t return to court,” explained Tung.
The judge is the case, Christine Van Aken, was appointed last year by Jerry Brown out of the San Francisco City Attorney’s office.
“This is where the city is wrong,” Kosarian said of the decision to release Vincent. “It can’t be a one-size-fits all solutions. The man that attacked me, also needs help. It’s a different type of help. It’s not to let them back on the street so he can go use again. What is it preventing him from getting high and attacking someone else?”
Wednesday evening, Kosarian tweeted a video clip of the attack to California Governor Gavin Newsom, imploring him to “PLEASE SAVE OUR CITY.”
@GavinNewsom Please watch this video of me getting attacked at my front door less than 72-hrs ago. The man who attacked me was released this morning because the judge, Christine Van Aken believes that this man is not a danger to our community. PLEASE SAVE OUR CITY!! #savesf pic.twitter.com/XGzmtSLQpP
— Paneez Kosarianfard (@paneezkosarian) August 15, 2019
Kosarian told KPIX 5 on Monday her encounter with Vincent began with a “semi-calm” conversation outside the Watermark.
Things took a terrifying turn when the man claimed the building security guard was a robot.
“He asked me to open the door so he could get into the building and kill her, so that he could earn my trust,” said Kosarian.
She said the assailant then demanded her keys, wallet and phone. Security camera video shows Kosarian being thrown to the ground as she fought back to get inside to safety.
“He was holding down my legs, pulling my legs, not letting me go inside for about a good five minutes,” remembered Kosarian. She eventually managed to escape, suffering from bruises on her fingers and an injured wrist.
Vincent is set to return to court next month.