The judge at the center of a controversy involving a homeless man seen on a viral video violently attacking a young woman in San Francisco — an incident that has ramped up pressure on the city and state’s political leadership — has issued a new order for the suspect she initially let go without any safeguards.
Last Monday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Christine Van Aken released Austin James Vincent, a 25-year-old homeless man seen on surveillance video violently attacking Paneez Kosarian outside her apartment complex. Vincent was charged with false imprisonment, battery, and attempted robbery, charges to which he pleaded not guilty. Despite the seriousness of the charges, Judge Van Aken let him go, stipulating only that he report to a caseworker for a diversion program that provides mental health services.
Van Aken’s order, prompted Kosarian to take action, posting video of the attack online and calling out Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown in the process. “[Gov. Newsom,] Please watch this video of me getting attacked at my front door less than 72-hrs ago,” Kosarian wrote in a series of posts Wednesday. “The man who attacked me was released this morning because the judge, Christine Van Aken believes that this man is not a danger to our community. PLEASE SAVE OUR CITY!!” She added in a follow-up post: “I need answers!! [Jerry Brown] [Gavin Newsom] recall judge Christine Van Aken, she is not fit for this job and is putting all of our lives in danger. What are you waiting for? Please, you have to do something.”
After Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed were forced to address the growing outrage over the incident, Judge Van Aken issued a new order on Friday. Vincent, the judge said in a hearing Friday, must now wear an ankle monitor.
As The San Francisco Chronicle underscores, the hearing only came after multiple public officials “slammed” Van Aken’s reckless initial ruling. Van Aken also says that she had not seen the surveillance footage in the first hearing involving the suspect because it had not been submitted in court. She only saw it when the video went viral after Kosarian posted it.
“When I saw the video, I was frankly alarmed at the level of violence,” she said at Friday’s hearing, in comments reported by the Chronicle. “It altered my assessment of the public-safety risk of this case. I take public safety very seriously.”
Kosarian has continued to hammer the issue of the city allowing its residents to be threatened as a result of its unwillingness to address the homeless epidemic and has called out the District Attorney for allegedly failing to provide the video evidence to the judge.
“Today I found out that the DA’s office didn’t present a key evidence to the judge at the arraignment, which is the video of the attack,” she tweeted Friday. “She decided to release him based on the ‘facts’ presented to her. [George Gascon] how is she supposed to make good decisions w/t the core evidence?”
“It’s unfortunate that they are forcing us to leave our city, the place so many of us call home, simply because we don’t feel safe!!!” she wrote in another post. “San Francisco, is having basic safety too much to ask?”
As The Daily Wire has highlighted, the homeless crisis in California — particularly in San Francisco and Los Angeles —has escalated in the last few years, with the population spiking dramatically and reports of serious sickness and disease and violence climbing in recent months.