SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A man accused of menacing and attacking an elderly Asian man while robbing him of his recyclables in San Francisco’s Bayview district – in an incident shared widely on social media – pleaded not guilty in his initial court appearance.
Jonathan Amerson, 56, appeared in court Tuesday on charges of robbery and elderly abuse in connection with the attack on the unidentified 68-year-old man in front of a housing complex on Osceola Lane who was hauling large bags of recycled material.
Video of the Feb. 22nd incident – in which people mock and insult the man as another man takes his recycling and appears to hit him with a grabbing tool – helped lead police to the arrest of Amerson and the man who shot the video, 20-year-old Dwayne Grayson. Amerson surrendered to police on Sunday.
Although the victim was struck in the head during the alleged robbery, police said he was not hospitalized.
Following Tuesday’s not guilty plea, Amerson was scheduled to return to court on March 13. He remains in custody and is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail, according to jail records.
Police said in addition to the Feb. 22 incident, Amerson allegedly robbed the same victim of his recycling materials two months ago in the same area.
Grayson allegedly filmed the most recent incident and uploaded it to social media, police said.
According to the District Attorney’s Office spokesman Alex Bastian, Grayson is not being charged for now and will instead be placed in a restorative justice program, at the victim’s request.
“We’ve been in conversation with victim who expressed a restorative justice outcome, especially for the young person who videoed the incident,” Bastian said. “We respect our victim and their desires and are exploring a restorative justice outcome for this case, however, if that does not work out, we do have the option to bring this case to the courtroom.”
In a statement, Grayson’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Danielle Harris, said Grayson appeared to be pleased with the decision.
“Dewayne Grayson is 20 years old and an alumnus of SF’s public schools. Dewayne is growing everyday and learning from his mistakes. Dewayne does not know any of the other persons involved in the events that bring him into this spotlight and has no ill feelings toward any of them. He is excited to take part in this restorative justice program, particularly with others who live and/or work in the Bayview-Hunters Point community he calls home,” she said.
Amerson’s attorney, Alexandria Carl, was not immediately available for comment.