Man accused of hitting ex-SFFD commissioner with metal rod released ahead of hearing

Garret Doty's release is a requirement by law after former SFFD Commissioner Don Carmignani missed his opportunity to testify.

ByAmanda del Castillo and Suzanne Phan KGO logo
Friday, April 28, 2023
Ex-SFFD commissioner altercation suspect released; charges not dropped
A man accused of striking a former San Francisco fire commissioner with a metal rod is being released from jail Thursday but charges are not being dropped.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The man accused of hitting former SFFD Commissioner Don Carmignani with a metal rod earlier this month has been released from custody.

Th news came down Thursday and is a requirement by law after Carmignani missed his opportunity to testify.

RELATED: Suspect accused in altercation with former SF fire commissioner acted in self-defense, attorney says

"We have not dismissed the charges in this case," San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins said in a statement. A preliminary hearing has been moved to next month.

Suspect Garret Doty, an unhoused man, is being released under minimum supervision and has been ordered to stay away from Carmignani and off Magnolia, where he's accused of attacking Carmignani with a metal rod on April 5.

Without Carmignani's testimony Thursday morning, by law, the court was required to release suspect Doty back into the public.

RELATED: New details, video in brutal attack of former SF fire commissioner in Marina District

New details are emerging from the brutal attack of former San Francisco Fire Commissioner Don Carmignani in the city's Marina District

But eyes remain on the case after a bombshell allegation by the public defender's office.

They're accusing Carmignani of being the aggressor, claiming Doty was actually acting in self-defense when he attacked Carmignani with that metal rod -- further linking Carmignani to at least eight attacks on unhoused people.

The public defender's office released video from a Nov. 2021 incident, claiming the person appearing to spray a homeless man with bear or pepper spray appears to be Carmignani.

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Another video reportedly shows a confrontation between the suspect and victim before the attack.

Doty's public defender believes the bear spray behavior and the subsequent attack are linked.

Public defender Kleigh Hathaway says Carmignani "has a pattern of spraying and assaulting homeless people."

ABC7 News checked with SFPD about those eight alleged attacks being pinned on Carmignani by the public defender's office.

The DA and police say they don't have any police reports filed specifically connecting Carmignani to those incidents.

Carmignani has been subpoenaed to testify.

Prosecutors say he was unable to make a court appearance because of the severity of his injuries, saying he is still not well enough to be in court.

Many people were surprised that Doty would be released from jail.

Former San Francisco supervisor Angela Alioto is a friend of Carmignani's. She says she's shocked.

"Don Carmignani has two plates in his head, a cracked skull, and a broken jaw," said Alioto. "Why couldn't they have done a Zoom call? Why wouldn't the DA actively make this happen so we clearly don't have a dangerous person back on the street?"

By phone, Carmignani's attorney Sam Ray commented on Doty's release, saying, "It's really unfortunate. It's scary."

Ray also said he hopes the stay-away order is effective near his client's home, because "my client is in real danger."

The preliminary hearing has been moved to May 23.

San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins released the following statement:

"We have not dismissed the charges in this case. Mr. Doty is charged with assault with a deadly weapon (PC 245(a)(1)), aggravated battery with serious bodily injury (PC 243(d)), and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury (PC 245(a)(4)).

Today, the People moved for and were granted a continuance on Mr. Doty's preliminary hearing because Mr. Carmignani was unavailable to testify because of his injuries. His testimony is necessary for us to prove these charges.

Additionally, the court ordered the defendant to be released from custody. The court released Mr. Doty from custody pursuant to Penal Code 859(b). Mr. Doty has also been served with a criminal protective order and must stay 100 yards away from the victim and away from the entire block of Magnolia Street.

The preliminary hearing in this matter has been set for May 23, 2023, at 9:00 AM in Department 20. Mr. Doty is ordered to appear at the preliminary hearing."

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