SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A man charged with assaulting a woman outside her San Francisco waterfront condo complex will not face additional criminal counts from a February assault after his defense attorney presented evidence that he was in Southern California at the time.
Austin Vincent was remanded into police custody on August 19th based on separate allegations that arose after his mugshot appeared on local media outlets and he was identified by a victim of the February attack as the man who pulled a knife on her and her friends as they waited for a ride-share car outside a San Francisco club.
But Vincent’s attorney, Saleem Belbahri, filed a bail motion this week to have the charges dropped after the new evidence surfaced.
“The Public Defender was able to prove that Mr. Vincent was living in Southern California at the time of the February incident and could not have been the perpetrator,” the public defender’s office said in a press release. “Mr. Vincent’s attorney, Saleem Belbahri, filed a bail motion this week to have the charges dropped.”
Belbahri said he had been told the charges will be tossed out on Wednesday
“I received word from the D.A. today that they were able to corroborate the information I submitted in the bail motion, and have indicated that they plan to throw out the charges tomorrow,” the attorney said.
Vincent had been ordered to wear a GPS tracker and was undergoing mental health treatment following a highly publicized assault San Francisco resident Paneez Kosarian outside the lobby of her condo building known as the Watermark.
The vicious attack was captured on surveillance video and ignited a debate over homelessness and crime within San Francisco particularly when Judge Christine Van Aken ordered Vincent released from jail.
The outcry over returning Vincent to the streets included criticism from San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Police Officers Association among others.
Last week, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera defended the judge’s actions.
“What happened to Ms. Kosarian is terrifying,” Herrers said in a statement. “That shouldn’t happen to anybody, and she is understandably angry about the legal process immediately following her attack. Facts matter though. Judge Van Aken had to make a decision at the arraignment based solely on the information presented to her in court. That is the law.
“We now know from today’s court proceeding that the District Attorneys’ Office had video of this attack at the time of arraignment and did not provide that key piece of evidence to the judge,” he continued. “That is information that should’ve been before the judge so she could weigh all of the facts in this case.”
“A picture says a thousand words. I’m pleased Judge Van Aken has ordered the District Attorney’s Office to provide her with the video evidence they have, and that in light of this new information she has ordered a GPS ankle monitor for the defendant.”
He said the wave of criticism aimed at Van Aken — including a letter from the San Francisco Police Officers Association asking that the judge be reassigned to traffic court — was unfair.
“The rush to judgment here and the desire to pillory an outstanding officer of the court is unsettling,” he said. “Judge Van Aken has been a tireless champion of the people of San Francisco for years. As an attorney, she was instrumental in securing marriage equality, successfully defending the city from the Trump administration’s unconstitutional overreach, and beating the NRA.”
Still, Breed reiterated her belief that Vincent should be in custody.
“We are not doing him any favors by letting him back out into the streets with no treatment, no help, no support,” she said. “It’s just gonna, unfortunately, happen again, and that’s part of the problem here.”