Judge’s Decision on Releasing Suspect That Allegedly Attacked Woman Condemned by Officials

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
August 16, 2019US News
Judge’s Decision on Releasing Suspect That Allegedly Attacked Woman Condemned by Officials
Austin James Vincent. (San Francisco Police Department)

A San Francisco judge released a man just days after he allegedly violently attacked a woman outside her condominium. The San Francisco Police Officers Association wants the judge reassigned.

The Police Association stated, in part:
“Judge Christine Van Aken’s continued tenure overseeing criminal cases is a danger to every law-abiding resident of San Francisco. Her reckless decision to release Austin James Vincent from custody after his videotaped violent assault on Paneez Kosarian validates our call for the presiding judge to reassign Van Aken to traffic court.”

The video below shows the suspect identified by the police as Austin James Vincent, 25, attacking San Francisco resident Paneez Kosarian outside her condo called Watermark.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed also commented on Aug. 15, “You know, we have a number of people who unfortunately I’m [sic] mentally ill or cycling in and out of our jails and hospitals,” she said, “this is not going to do anything for that person, and who knows what might happen moving forward and what you might do to someone else,” reported San Francisco CBS local.

Kosarian was terrified after she learned that her attacker was released three days later. Vincent was taken into custody on Apr. 11 at about 2 a.m.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office had charged the attacker on two felony counts, and two misdemeanors. Vincent pleaded not guilty on all counts and in spite of the prosecutors showing concern, he was released on Apr. 14 without electronic monitoring.

After learning of his sudden release, Kosarian expressed strong disapproval, “I mean, I’m shocked. I’m scared. Terrified,” Kosarian told KPIX. “I don’t understand what more it takes for the city and the judge to understand that this man is a danger to our society, our community, other residents.”

Vincent was ordered to stay away 100 feet away from Kosarian’s residence.

“100 feet away from my house,” said Kosarian. “So pretty much I am a prisoner in my own house. I’m terrified of leaving my own house while this man roams our streets freely.”

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office said in a statement, “The court released the defendant over our objection and contrary to the release recommendation of the public safety assessment tool on assertive case management.”

Nancy Tung, a former San Francisco prosecutor, said, “I’m surprised that he was released on his own recognizance with very few limitations,” she said, “It appears that there is some risk to public safety and a risk the guy won’t return to court.”

Kosarian wrote Wednesday evening on Twitter, “Please watch this video of me getting attacked at my front door less than 72-hrs ago. 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!!”

“What is to prevent him from getting high again, lose his mind, and attack someone else?” Kosarian said.

Kosarian said Vincent was saying that the world was full of robots and that the security guard in the building was a robot.

“He asked me to open the door, so he could get into the building and kill her so that he could earn my trust,” said Kosarian.
“He had apparently been standing there for 20 minutes but did not bother any of the males who passed. When he saw me, he saw his target,” she told The Chronicle.

“He was holding down my legs, pulling my legs, not letting me go inside for about a good five minutes,” said Kosarian. She eventually escaped, but was bruised and had an injured wrist.

Vincent’s attorney, Saleem Belbahri, said, “The court determined that Mr. Vincent was not a threat to public safety, and he was released under restrictive conditions that require him to report to Assertive Case Management, which can assess his mental health needs and assist him in navigating the complex legal process ahead.”

Van Aken said that she didn’t see the video when she ruled the case, thinking that the police report was sufficient. She ordered the district attorney to put the video into evidence, “Because of what I saw in the video, I do have some public safety concerns now,” Van Aken said Friday.

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