A new wrinkle has arisen in the case that’s raised $1 million on GoFundMe, as surveillance video indicates the attacker himself had just been beaten pretty senseless.
Of the many attacks on elderly Asian Americans over the past year, the March 17 punching of 75 year-old Xiao Zhen Xie stands out. The incident made national headlines because of the unique circumstance that she apparently beat her attacker back with a board, and her plight raised more than $1 million in GoFundMe donations.
But now the case is working its way through the courts, and the public defender for alleged attacker Steven Jenkins argues this was not racially motivated. The defense now says that Jenkins was disoriented because he himself had just been thoroughly beaten with more than 50 blows to the head, according to the Chronicle.
On one hand, of course a public defender will try to get charges against their client reduced, who in this case is a 39-year-old homeless man who reportedly suffers from mental illness. On the other hand, the public defender has released security footage video that shows Jenkins was indeed on the wrong end of a 50-punch ass-whooping, and he may have, arguably, thought Xie was one of the people who punched him. But still he appears to see what he's doing and it's assaulting an old lady half his size.
The (Warning: graphic) video is available online, and it does contain the disturbing attack on Xie, so you have to decide if you really want to watch that. Moreover, it does kind of show that Xie did not so much fend off her attacker, but instead whacked him in the legs with a board once a security guard had already tackled him. And admittedly, grandma pounding a guy half her age with a board is somewhat amusing.
But the rest of the video is rough. You can track which one is Jenkins in the grainy, seven-minute video, because he’s got an orange dot over his head. At about the 1:36 mark he gets in a dispute with someone in a red hoodie who successfully lands several punches to his face. At about 1:50, it becomes a two-on-one, with Jenkins’ mobility impaired because his pants are at his knees. Then it becomes a three-on-one fight at the 2:30 mark, with Jenkins getting punched senseless as six bystanders look on doing absolutely nothing. The entire time, Jenkins appears to be shouting things that can't be heard on this video.
At about the five minute mark, he is punched again by an unknown man at the corner of 7th and Market, and then punches the next person he sees, who is Xie, who gets her revenge licks in once Jenkins is tackled by an officer.
Referring to the video, San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Eric McBurney told NBC Bay Area, “It shows that in that brief period of three minutes, he himself was the victim of unprovoked assaults from multiple parties, from multiple directions and as he was making his getaway the assault continues.”
As KGO reminds us, Jenkins had also allegedly assaulted 83-year-old man Ngoc Pham earlier the same day. Jenkins is charged with six felony counts of assault, battery and infliction of injury, and was scheduled to appear court Friday.
The celebrated GoFundMe for Xie is still up and currently at just over $1 million, which Xie’s family says will be donated back to the Asian American community.
Image: SF Public Defender’s Office