San Francisco man who allegedly threatened family wearing Black Lives Matter shirts arrested on hate crime charges

Friday, June 19, 2020
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A San Francisco man was arrested on felony threat and hate crime charges after a family says he accosted them at a restaurant while they were wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco man was arrested on felony threat and hate crime charges Thursday after a family says he accosted them at a restaurant while they were wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.

Steve Cibotti, who was caught on surveillance, is accused of threatening Ciara Doherty, Anthony Colon, and their three young children while they ate dinner at a restaurant in Burlingame on June 7.

As the family recounted to ABC7, they had just come from a protest in San Francisco and the children were wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.

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"He basically banged the table, slammed his hands on the table looked directly at my son and said 'Black lives matter. 'F' black lives. Blue lives matter,'" said Colon to ABC7 News reporter Kate Larsen on June 8.

Colon said that Cibotti came back to their table a second time and again threatened to shoot them. "He said 'F you, B. I'll f'ing shoot you.'"

On Thursday, Larsen was the only reporter at the San Mateo County Jail as Cibotti walked out after posting $150,000 bail.

Cibotti was arrested on four counts of felony threats with a hate crime enhancement.

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Larsen asked Cibotti if he wanted to say anything to Ciara, Anthony, and their children.

Cibotti said nothing.

His defense attorney, Paula Canny, did talk. "He signed up for rehab because I said, 'Dude you have a drinking problem, you need to go to rehab.'"

Canny says Cibotti had too much to drink with his family while eating at Flights.

His family, which has ties to law enforcement, left the restaurant. Canny says Cibotti came back to use the restroom and that's when witnesses say he denounced black lives and threatened to shoot.

Larsen: "Does your client believe that black lives matter?

Canny: "I think he does, I think he does by his actions."

Larsen: "Why did he say that?"

Canny: "I don't know! Look, I've made a career of representing people who do dumb stuff when they're drunk."

Canny described Cibotti in recent days, who was just fired from his job at United Airlines over this matter. "Just a bundle of tears, super upset, super crying, super stressed out."

Canny disputes that Cibotti threatened to shoot the family, but San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Burlingame police interviewed a dozen witnesses.

"Right now, on what people reported to the detective, who interviewed them, those words were spoken," said Wagstaffe.

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"This wasn't just somebody who was yelling at the people next to them because their kids were crying or making noise," said Wagstaffe, explaining why he is pursuing felony threat and hate crime charges.

"This one has that added element that it's based on race at a time in our world, our community is very concerned about this issue and he is railing against a family for exercising their right."

"According to the evidence we have, he added in, 'If I had a gun, I would shoot you.'"

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Doherty and Colon put out a statement after learning of Cibotti's arrest.

"We are relieved to hear that the District Attorney has filed charges. We look forward to the resolution of this matter so that we and everyone else affected by this incident can put it behind them and begin the healing process."

Canny says Cibotti does not have any firearms at home. Wagstaffe confirms that Cibotti has no registered weapons.

Cibotti is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.