The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office announced Tuesday that a jury cleared a man facing life in prison as a result of an altercation at a Mission District health center last year. But despite charges being dropped, Darren Cubie will receive no compensation for the 10 months he spent in jail.
“Mr. Cubie was defending his life,” wrote Public Defender Jeff Adachi in a press release. “Fortunately, his public defender was able to free him, but not before he spent 10 months behind bars.”
“Unfortunately when people can’t afford bail in these cases, it’s terribly unfair that they stay in jail until they are cleared,” said Tamara Aparton, a spokesperson for the Public Defender’s Office. “Cubie had been new to the city and is planning on going back to his hometown.”
Cubie, 39, was facing felony charges including mayhem, battery with serious bodily injury, and assault causing serious bodily injury stemming from a physical altercation that occurred on May 11, 2015, that sent both Cubie and a 45-year-old man to the hospital.
Both Cubie and the other man were clients at the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center on Capp Street between 16th and 17th Streets. The man was acting aggressively when he approached Cubie, the Public Defender’s Office wrote, using racial slurs and pushing him against a row of lockers. Cubie responded by punching the man, at which point the center’s staff intervened.
In an effort to defuse the fight, staff instructed the two to go in opposite directions, sending Cubie away first. After some time, the other man was sent off as well – but he followed Cubie and found him a ways down the sidewalk.
An eyewitness, the Public Defender said, testified that the man walked up to Cubie and pulled out a box cutter to threaten him, when Cubie told him to leave and that the fight was over. The man continued to harass Cubie and lunged at him with the box cutter, prompting Cubie to punch his assailant repeatedly in self-defense. The man suffered severe fractures to the face that required multiple metal plates.
“We followed our de-escalation procedure to make sure that both of our clients were safe,” said Laura Guzman, director of the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center. “We think that it’s a very unfortunate situation for both of our community members.”
As Cubie took the stand, he described that he defended himself with his hands only after realizing that he had no other choice. Another man, who said that he too had been the victim of an unprovoked attack by the same assailant, testified that the man had stabbed him in 2007 at a homeless shelter.
When the 45-year-old took the the stand, he testified that he did not carry knives and had no recollection of what happened outside of the health center during the encounter with Cubie. He also gave a contradictory account of the 2007 stabbing at the homeless shelter.