A Vietnamese immigrant who was attacked and beaten on the street two years ago by a father and son is suing DA Chesa Boudin over his handling of the case. The attack happened back in November 2019 in broad daylight.
Lê said it all started after he politely asked the teenage son, who was riding a bicycle, to be careful since it was a crowded sidewalk and he nearly collided with him.
Shortly after, the teenager took out a baseball bat from his mother’s bag and hit Lê multiple times. His father, identified as Jimmy Tanner Sr., then raised a glass bottle and threatened to kill Lê.
The incident, which was witnessed by a shocked crowd, occurred in front of a Chinese grocery store at 1118 Stockton St. Lê said Tanner’s wife, who was with another teenage son, “seemed to watch with glee” as the attack unfolded.
“I pleaded with the Tanners to stop, but they relished in their ability to inflict pain and fear on a defenseless senior citizen,” Lê said in a victim impact statement provided to NextShark. “The attack was the most brutal, terrifying, and humiliating experience of my life, and has stayed with me ever since.”
The Tanner’s public defender offered a different account of the incident:
Tanner’s public defender in the criminal case, Sliman Nawabi, said Tanner never attacked Lê and that the bat used by the son to strike Lê was plastic.
Nawabi said Tanner is a “severely disabled man” who was traveling in his wheelchair at the time of the incident, accompanied by his wife and young children. The children were riding their bikes when Lê berated them for being on the sidewalk, Nawabi said.
“Out of fear for his safety, Mr. Tanner’s 11-year-old son took out his plastic baseball bat and swung it at Mr. Lê,” Nawabi said. “Mr. Le refused medical attention that day and had no visible injuries from the plastic baseball bat. Mr. Le was never attacked by Mr. Tanner nor was a glass bottle used as a weapon against Mr. Le.”
So they didn’t deny the child attacked Lê, they’re basically just saying it wasn’t a real bat and therefore no real harm was done. In a press conference Tuesday, Lê claimed the same family had attacked two other Asian people that same day, one just before he was attacked and one a few hours later that evening.
Lê also pointed out that both of his attackers were arrested and the initial charges against the adult were initially very serious. “Although he was arrested for felony terroristic threats, felony elder abuse and battery, because of the way my case has been handled by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, justice has not been served,” he said. Specifically, the DA’s office wound up charging Jimmy Tanner with a misdemeanor.
The San Francisco District Attorney refused to prosecute either Tanner Sr. or his son with a hate crime, and agreed to a lenient plea deal with the father.
In order to avoid jail time, Tanner Sr. pled guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge. He received a year of probation over the incident.
Lê says the Office of District Attorney Chesa Boudin never informed him of a lenient plea deal cut with his attackers or the lack of a hate crime charge until after the fact.
Lê and his attorneys claim that cutting this deal with Tanner without consulting him in advance was a violation of Marsy’s Law, which is also known as the California Victim’s Bill of Rights. Specifically his attorneys believe he should have been given the chance to make a victim’s impact statement before the plea deal was concluded.
Of course this lawsuit is significant not just because of this one instance but because Boudin faces a recall election in June. Street attacks on Asian Americans have been a hot button issue because the number of them has increased, especially in San Francisco. All that to say, this does not make Boudin look very good just five months before voters will decide his fate.
Here’s Mr. Lê full press conference about the case against DA Boudin.
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