In a courtroom bombshell, the defense attorney for the homeless man accused of beating former fire commissioner Don Carmignani today accused Carmignani of perpetrating earlier attacks against homeless people. This attack occurred on Carmignani's block on Nov. 6, 2021.

The public defender representing the homeless man accused of beating ex-fire commissioner Don Carmignani with a metal rod insinuated in court today that Carmignani was potentially a Marina District vigilante responsible for eight previous pepper-spray attacks on homeless people between November, 2021, and January, 2023, all within four blocks of his residence.

Garrett Allen Doty purportedly beat Carmignani on April 5, severely injuring him and landing the former commissioner in the hospital. That attack, however, allegedly came only after Carmignani purportedly bear-sprayed Doty. 

Police sources in mid-April told Mission Local about the series of prior attacks on homeless people in the neighborhood, which we published on April 13. 

Carmignani’s attorney denied that the vigilante behind the spate of anti-homeless attacks was his client.

The prior attacks on homeless people were perpetrated by a roughly six-foot-tall white man, weighing between 200 to 300 pounds, with gray/brown hair. The victims were homeless people asleep on the street, in tents, or sitting on benches.

An attack from Nov. 6, 2021, which took place on Magnolia Street, where Carmignani lives, shows the attacker spraying a sleeping person, “focusing on the victim’s face for at least a few seconds,” according to Kleigh Hathaway, the public defender representing Doty.

Footage of the Nov. 6, 2021 attack.

Police reports list the weapon used in the attacks as a “large” can of pepper spray, similar to the 10-inch can of bear spray, which is more concentrated than pepper spray, which Carmignani allegedly used on Doty on April 5. Police reports of previous assaults also included comments from the attacker such as “Get the fuck out of my town,” “Get out of here,” and “This is my fucking neighborhood.”

Footage of the April 5 altercation.

According to Hathaway, a witness to the altercation between Doty and Carmignani attests that Carmignani told Doty, “I’m going to stab you,” “I’m going to kill you,” and “Get out of here.”

Deputy public defender Kleigh Hathaway is representing Garrett Doty, the man accused of severely beating Don Carmignani with a crowbar. She says a witness to the altercation between Doty and Carmignani attests that Carmignani told Doty “I’m going to stab you,” “I’m going to kill you,” and “Get out of here.”

If the suspect behind the attacks is, indeed, Carmignani, it would be the second prominent incident in San Francisco this month in which an overriding narrative has been upended by subsequent facts.

After the killing of Bob Lee on April 4, a spate of voices, nationally and internationally, decried street crime as the force behind the killing — and, despite statistical evidence to the contrary, claimed violent crime in San Francisco was on the rise. The April 13 arrest of Nima Momeni, an acquaintance of Lee’s and fellow tech entrepreneur, quieted those voices.

Carmignani’s beating, which came just one day after Lee’s killing, was immediately seized upon as yet another sign of San Francisco’s increasing violence and lawlessness. Then came accusations that Carmignani maced Doty prior to the beating — and then came today’s courtroom allegations, that he may have been behind earlier attacks on homeless people in the Marina. 

Carmignani did not appear in court this morning, pushing to tomorrow the preliminary hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence for the district attorney to proceed with a case against Doty — contrary to earlier reports that the DA’s office has dropped charges.

The DA failed to subpoena Carmignani, saying that they thought he was not fit to appear in court because of the attack, despite having given interviews to multiple media outlets.

“We thought he was too ill to come in, but we’ve learned that he can, in fact, testify,” said prosecutor Michele Brass.

It was revealed today that Carmignani has not provided statements to the District Attorney’s Office or the police department. Hathaway said that body camera footage from the April 5 incident captured Carmignani telling his girlfriend: “Don’t say nothing to nobody, don’t say nothing to the cops.”

The hearing will take place tomorrow. Valerie Ibarra, a spokesperson for the Public Defender’s Office, said that, even if Carmignani fails to appear in court tomorrow, the DA could still proceed with the case.

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Christina grew up in Brooklyn and moved to the Bay in 2018. She studied Creative Writing and Earth Systems at Stanford.

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  1. I feel sorry for Don that he thinks so little of people he would treat them with such contempt and violence. May peace find its way to him.

  2. The fact is that Carmignani is an ex Fire Commissioner because he was forced to resign from the Fire Commission in 2013 after he was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and making criminal threats against his wife.

    He pled guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge.

  3. What an insufferable human. Carmignani should be thrown in jail. For a former fire commissioner to harm the most vulnerable people on the streets is inhumane and disgusting. Personally, I would call him a terrorist instead of a vigilante. Good work from the police and the Public Defender’s office. DA Jenkins should go after Carmignani not Doty who was defending himself.

    San Francisco’s problems aren’t unhoused and drug-afflicted residents. The problem is how we treat and talk about our most vulnerable neighbors because of insane narratives being shared on social media like Twitter. It makes me sick and angry.

    1. Garret Doty’s lawyer is making accusations without proof.

      Carmignani is entitled to the same presumption of innocence that drug addled vagabonds like Doty are.

      “Homeless”? Not if they live in front of your elderly mother and repeatedly attack her.
      They can be housed in a standard 6×8 cell.

  4. Another media hyped story about how violence in SF turns out to be not the homeless, but the “right” kind of San Francisco residents who are committing the crimes.

  5. Like cops, firemen are overwhelmingly Republicans and hate homeless people. For instance, check out the likely 2024 GOP presidential nominee,, “Trump reveals new homelessness policy: Tent cities for rehabilitation and jail for those who refuse.”

  6. Stunning. I had to re-read the story a few times.

    Thank you SO MUCH for reporting this information.

    Unfortunately, the original story has become so pervasive, so quick to become part of the unwelcome, incomplete narrative of this city, I am not sure anyone will be able to put it back in the bottle, nor does a certain type of person want to.

  7. I guess now the narrative is that homelessness is so bad, people are resorting to vigilantism.

    1. Every person should be treated with respect,
      The hate needs to stop and we all need to turn from our wicked ways and pray for peace
      and ask God to heal the land all over the world,

  8. The correct solution is to charge both the homeless guy (for alleged beating) and also the former firefighter (for the alleged bear spraying). The wrong solution is to let the homeless guy off without punishment. Two alleged wrongs = two charges. Two wrongs doesn’t mean get out of jail.

    1. I mean… if someone is saying they’re going to stab and kill you, and then shoots you in the face with bear spray, I think you have a right to defend yourself…

      1. Doty could have backed out of the situation and not beat Carmignani half dead. To get even I suppose. Two charges.

        1. Said by someone who most likely has never been bear sprayed. Pepper spray is a weak shadow compared to bear spray which adheres to the skin and can burn for hours maybe even days. Very few homeless people have facilities to decontaminate them selves from such an attack.

          1. It is not the DA, it is the courts that decide. If a jury agrees with your position, fair enough.