A man dressed in a t-shirt and a vest has stitches in his forehead and ear, and bruises on his face
Ramon Reyna sits in his house in the days after he was assaulted near his home in the Mission District. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

In what appear to be separate instances of assault in the Mission, multiple victims say they know who attacked them — but have had no help in getting the police to arrest the perpetrators. One of the victims has given up. Another, severely beaten in a recent incident near the Mission District home where he has lived for more than a decade, lives in fear of being targeted again. 

“If they haven’t arrested him, I’m going to continue with the fear that he will find me and want to attack me,” said Ramon Reyna, a 52-year-old restaurant worker who landed in the hospital with more than 20 stitches after a stranger hit and kicked him in the street last week. 

Police say they are investigating the Sept. 20 attack against Reyna, and a January attack against Joseph Miller, but no arrests have been made. 

Miller knows who attacked him. Witnesses allege that it was the same Rafael Navarro who allegedly attacked Clara Luz Diaz Oscan’s family last summer with a machete. But Miller and Diaz Oscan have all but given up on trying to get justice. 

Miller, who no longer lives in the Mission, estimates he’s run into Navarro more than a dozen times since the attack that put him in the hospital. Diaz Oscan took out a restraining order against Navarro, but sees him all the time on her block. She crosses the street to avoid confrontation. 

All these victims told Mission Local that they can identify the men who assaulted them, and would be willing to point them out if it would help get them off the street. Others, who have seen Navarro get violent, try to make accommodations to keep their distance and stay on good terms.   

For Reyna, the Tuesday evening of Sept. 20 seemed like any other. He left the restaurant where he works as a food runner, drove home, parked his car, and got his chihuahua from his house near 18th and Valencia streets. It was nearly midnight, the time he generally takes the dog out for a walk.  

Reyna was near the Women’s Building on 18th Street when a tall man with a backwards baseball cap and a large fluffy harnessed dog began pursuing Reyna and his dog. The man encouraged his dog to attack the chihuahua. The dog was uninterested, so the man took matters into his own hands.

“The dog didn’t attack, he didn’t obey him,” Reyna told Mission Local of the man. “He insisted and insisted about three times and then, since his dog didn’t attack, he started attacking my dog — I guess he wanted to kill it.” 

Reyna said his priority was to save his pet, so it caught him by surprise when he was suddenly struck in the ear. He doesn’t remember the blows that followed, but his face was held together with stitches when he met with Mission Local days after the attack. In a post about the incident, Reyna’s son, Erick, said his father’s ear was partially detached, and that doctors said his father was “minutes from bleeding out on the sidewalk.” 

The man who put Reyna in the hospital, stole his phone and broke his glasses has not been arrested. According to police, the investigation is still open. And this despite Reyna’s description of his attacker: A man of about 6 feet 2 inches, who looked to be in his 30s, wearing a backpack and a colorful blanket draped over his shoulders. He is seen clearly in the video footage Mission Local reviewed, which Reyna’s family tracked down from nearby security cameras.

What additional information is needed for police to track down these individuals is unclear. 

In the case of his January attack, Miller has lost hope. He was jumped as he left a Valencia Street bar with his friends. Witnesses told him the attacker used a hammer. 

“Just out of nowhere, I just got shoved from behind, and I kind of turned, and as I turned, I got hit in the head very hard with what I’m told is a hammer,” said Miller, who was walking near the corner of 16th and Valencia streets. “It was just kind of like, turn — and crack. And that was it.” 

Miller remembered removing his beanie, and blood pouring down his face. He was taken to the hospital, where he got seven staples in his head. 

But when he started asking for help from the San Francisco Police Department to press charges, and find out whether the man — who witnesses Miller later spoke with identified as Navarro, a regular near 16th and Valencia — was still out on the streets, Miller said he got nowhere. 

“I couldn’t really get through to anyone,” Miller told Mission Local in the days after the incident. Just days after he was attacked, Miller saw Navarro in the street, and made a beeline for the police station to report his attacker’s whereabouts. He was told the matter was out of the officers’ hands, and he would have to wait out the investigative process. 

Eight months later, Miller is still waiting. He feels the police don’t care. The police investigator assigned to his case doesn’t take his calls anymore. When Miller told him he knew who the attacker was and had witnesses to back him up, he was told to let the police do their job. 

“I’ve basically become a nuisance to them, is what I’ve gathered,” Miller said. “He told me to stop doing my own investigating, ’cause it could hurt the case — and I said, ‘Well, what the fuck are you guys doing about it?’” 

The DA’s office was slightly more helpful and provided him with access to victims services, and offered him connection to therapy if he wanted; they checked in with him as recently as last month. But Miller said it isn’t enough: “I’m kind of past all that now — I’m kind of just mad about it now, it’s like nothing is being done.” 

Violent assaults are not rampant in San Francisco, particularly random attacks. So far this year, the SFPD’s crime dashboard shows 289 assaults in the Mission District — far fewer than in past years. In all of 2017, the police reported 541 assaults, and the number has generally declined since then. Only about 40 percent of these crimes are “cleared,” meaning they result in an arrest or charges. 

These days, those who know Navarro from the neighborhood report seeing him with a dark-colored pit bull that he encourages to attack people in the street, Miller said. The dog, however, is docile, according to witnesses. 

Even so, those who cross paths with Navarro say they are afraid. 

“I’m terrified of this guy, when I’m working behind the bar and he walks into my work … he just walks up and down, trying to make everybody nervous,” said a bartender at Delirium, who asked not to be named out of fear for her safety. “I won’t make eye contact with him.” 

The longtime bartender told Mission Local that she’s seen Navarro around for at least a couple years, and last year witnessed him attack a diner with a golf club near the restaurants at 16th and Valencia streets. 

“I mean, he was beating him. The guy was just trying to block the hits,” she said. The argument began over Navarro’s speaker, she said, which the man asked him to turn down. 

After the attack, no one called the police, and life moved on. 

When she first heard the news that Reyna was attacked last week by a man with a dog, Casanova employee Lily immediately thought it might be Navarro. After all, she had just seen Navarro that same evening near her business two blocks away, with the dog she says he’s had with him recently. 

But the man Reyna identified in security camera footage is not the one that Lily sees daily on her block. Navarro, 55, is shorter around 5 feet 5 inches, and middle-aged, with a darker complexion. 

Lily, who was walking out of her bar with Miller the night he was attacked, said she also witnessed Navarro attempt to attack Diaz Oscan’s husband and son with a machete in August of 2021 after they allegedly asked him to turn down the music on the loudspeaker he carts around. 

That night, the police arrived and booked the attacker on three counts of aggravated assault, SFPD Public Information Officer Kathryn Winters confirmed. Jail records from that day show Navarro was taken to county jail that day, but Lily said she remembers seeing him back on the corner the next day. 

Diaz Oscan said she is frustrated because it seems that law enforcement doesn’t care about the damage Navarro has done to her family. Like Miller, she said she doesn’t have time for therapy, and takes medication to ease her anxiety. 

“If he kills one of us, maybe then they’ll pay attention,” Diaz Oscan said in Spanish. She said everyone on her block near 16th and Valencia knows Navarro — and she knows of a neighbor and performing mariachis who have also been attacked. 

DA spokesperson Randy Quezada said the DA’s office dismissed the case against Navarro after the machete incident, but did not say why. 

Just 10 days later, Navarro appears in jail booking logs, having been arrested again for assault with a deadly weapon. Quezada did not respond to a request about whether Navarro was charged for that incident. 

“It’s just kind of frightening to just walk — I walk by that corner on a pretty regular basis,” Miller said after he was attacked. “Just to know that there’s somebody out there just hitting people randomly with deadly objects on the head. It’s like, not good at all.”

Lily filed her own police report about Miller’s assault, but also hasn’t heard anything back. She believed the police had camera footage from nearby Panchita’s Pupusería #2, and didn’t understand how no action was being taken. 

“I’m not even a police officer, and I can put two and two together,” she said. And so, she took matters into her own hands to smooth things over, and tries to avoid confrontation with Navarro.

For now, Reyna is hoping that the police find the man who assaulted him last week. His wife and daughter have been taking the dog out for walks while he recovers, and remains home from work. 

“Now, the main thing is to know that they arrested him so as not to be afraid,” Reyna said in Spanish. “Because if not, if they haven’t arrested him, I’m going to continue with the fear that he will find me and want to attack me. If he met me, if he knows who I am, can he attack me again?” 

Though Reyna said he has survived assaults in the past, none of his past encounters have been this severe. 

“There are always people like that, but I’ve always felt safe because it’s my neighborhood. I know everyone here and I have always felt safe — until that day.” 

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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  1. There is no real community voice here in the comment section due to excessive ‘moderation’. I’ll be surprised if this comment sees the light of day, after seeing my last couple fairly benign comments about SFPD dysfunction quashed.

  2. This is one of the main reasons I`m totally against gun control. The role of cops is to protect the interests of the ruling classes and to uphold authoritarian morality and statist power. They don`t care about us poor and they would easily let us die psychos such as the ones on this article. Ya can bet yer life if this was some newly gentrified block, this guy would`ve been picked up ASAP. If cops and the state apparatus won`t protect us, we should at least have the right to posses weapons to protect ourselves.

  3. Really. I’m asking very basic, non-inflammatory questions to this comment section. Like why the recall campaign and the SFPD insisted that Chesa was the problem and that all we needed as a mayor-appointed DA and they could start doing their jobs again? Doesn’t it all kinda sound like it was bull from the beginning? If this comment can’t make it through moderation, I can’t see why I keep giving money (out of my disability check, no less) to support my neighborhood news source.

    1. Don`t bother asking questions that are part of the “political” realm because poltics is irrational and be it Chesa, Brooks or the POA…all those peeps are all liberticidal POS.

  4. I have tried to ask the rhetorical question of why, if we were told by the recall campaign and the SFPD its self that this type of police failure was the result of a DA that wouldn’t prosaecute.

  5. A while back, a meth addict was trying to kick down my door during the day. I called the cops and they quickly came but mentioned that since he had not barged in that they could not arrest him.

    I’m pretty sure this guy moved on to continue to do the same thing around the area since there were no repercussions for him but a simple talk and release.

    When is enough… enough?

  6. It’s true the police don’t care. I had my car sideswiped while parked and got the license number of the hit and run driver. I went to Mission station and they seem to think I was bothering them and ruining their sugar high, as they were all eating from a big box of donuts. They did nothing, but continued to stuff their faces with donuts.

    1. They only “care” when its a situation where they have to fulfill their roles of protecting the interests and status of the yuppie elites that rule our cities. Serving the yuppie elites is the ROLE of cops and always has been–and thats a historical fact.

  7. London Breed makes people she appoints to the Police Commission sign undated letters of resignation as a condition of appointment in order to maintain this status quo where the SFPD get paid to not do basic police work for San Franciscans.

    Breed fears that her appointees would do the right thing and she’d not be able to remove them for cause as the Charter requires.

  8. Eleni,

    When I saw you at Clarion Alley the other day I was repairing the mural at the entry to the Alley/Gallery which had been attacked by a chain saw which obliterated parts of the work condemning White Supremacy.

    The attackers also threw horse dung on several of the works which I cleaned off with ammonia and a brush.

    Why didn’t Mission Local cover this hate crime ??


  9. He’s probably a police informant and has some leeway. I would say someone hitting someone with hammer is attempted murder and is not something a police department would turn a blind eye to in any normal capacity!

  10. “A man of about 6 feet 2 inches, who looked to be in his 30s, wearing a backpack and a colorful blanket draped over his shoulders. ”

    Please be more specific, what race is he, how much does he way, length and color of his hair. This guy seems very dangerous

    1. He’s white. Blonde hair, length unspecified. Black dog. Weight, unspecified. Blanket may indicate transciency.

      Let us know when you got him.

  11. >”What additional information is needed for police to track down these individuals is unclear.”

    Well, in regards to Reyna’s alleged assailant, whereabouts is needed. Hard to know about this Navarro guy, but regardless how worthless cops are, innocent until proven guilty should be the default. It does seem Ms. Balakrishnan verified enough allegations to include his name. A mugshot would’ve been over the top, in my opinion.

    1. I think the guy that attacked R. Reyna isn`t the same guy that attacked that family and that guy because their descriptions seem a lot different. The guy that Ramon mentioned was 6’2″ and the guy caught on video and witnessed by several people is 5’5″ and is middle aged and obviously likes blasting music. My roomate mentioned that she spotted some similar type person up near Dolores park.

    1. When he was in office, there were many similar situations where psychos like this one would be released the next day after being arrested. ALL “political” suck and are inferior beings, whatever spectrum of politicism they be part of. Politics is irrational and liberticidal and people that have political values are usually human scum.

  12. I bet if someone else retaliates on Raphael and things get worse. Then police would do something. Unfortunately someone needs to be killed In order for sfpd to care at a community town hall

  13. San Francisco gets more dangerous and dysfunctional every year. Maybe it’s time to vote for more pragmatic rational officials, rather than for the same deranged ideologues who year after year, have only offered us despair and death from their alter of “compassion”.

    1. Who do you think has been running this City (into the ground) for the past 44 years? In case you haven’t heard, under the Charter, the Mayor has most, if not all the power. Deranged ideologues? Dianne Feinstein. Art Agnos. Frank Jordan. Willie Brown. Gavin Newsom. Ed Lee. London Breed. I’ve heard them called a lot of things (richly derseved) but not that. Try the “Family” or the “Cartel” — the decrepit faction of the local Democratic Party dominated by real estate and corporate. Their talk, on occasion, may sound compassionate, but their actions have often been cruel, and consistent — and “rational” as the objective is to minimize public spending while maximizing the financial interests of their donors (and their own personal power perks) . They have cut and cut and cut City services over the years, hollowing out the public sector and degrading life in the City. However, I don’t think they are to blame for the lack of police action in this case. Quick to pull the trigger in some cases, while slow to make arrests in others is a not new in the Mission. Here’s hoping the new, younger and racially diverse officers I’ve seen on the street recently can impact the culture at the SFPD and the POA.

      1. Hey Mark,

        Your boy Chesa discmissed chartes against Navarro in the Diaz case.

        Stop pretending the supervisors don’t play a big part in the dysfunction. Where’s that coward Ronen on this issue?

        Long time Mission locals we need to stand up.

      2. Minimize public spending? SF public employee payroll is out of control! But I’d guess you think Navarro is entitled to a series of restorative justice sessions, free housing with social services – let’s throw in some supervised meth consumption so this valuable soul can self actualize – and a guaranteed income.

    2. Campers,

      Answer is to go back to having Public elect our Police Chief.

      Thataway they wouldn’t be vulnerable to pressure from the Mayor or POA.

      Michael Hennessey’s idea and a good one.

      Say, half dozen people run with platforms from Mandatory Foot Patrols to a Foreign Exchange Program modeled on Peace Corps.

      Niners play World Champ Rams tomorrow nite !


  14. Thank you for your reporting. Can you post a picture of Navarro so we know to avoid him when walking around?

    1. Yes please do share a picture. Do-nothing police who mainly live in East Bay suburbs are here to Protect (the wealthy) and Serve (no one else). I used to be ambivalent about the police and would trust them if I needed help. Now I won’t go near them and I will mete out justice and protect myself.