Wednesday's random stabbing of a 94-year-old Asian woman on her morning walk on Post Street has once again prompted finger-pointing among law enforcement, specifically after the suspect was revealed to be another repeat offender who's been in and out of the county jail in the last few years.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin can't easily be blamed in the case of 35-year-old Daniel Cauich (mugshot above), whose last brush with violent crime occurred long before Boudin took office. Cauich was charged alongside two other men, including his brother, in the 2016 murder of 55-year-old Larry Peevey in the Mission District. Daniel and Header Cauich, along with 27-year-old Jose Poot, were accused of killing Peevey on June 5, 2016 using two knives and a hatchet, with Poot accused of dealing the fatal blow.
For reasons not well explained so far in the press, a judge dismissed the charges against Daniel and Header Cauich in 2019, citing insufficient evidence. Poot remains in custody awaiting trial in the case.
The Cauich brothers were then arrested last fall in connection with a string of burglaries in North Beach, for which Daniel Cauich ended up serving 100 days in jail. He was released in April, and re-arrested in May for another burglary. These were the cases over which Boudin's office would have had jurisdiction, and Boudin has been telling anyone who'll listen the past two days that his office recommended to the judge that Cauich be held without bail in this latter case. The judge disagreed, and Cauich was freed earlier this month pending trial in the case, wearing an ankle monitor. Reportedly, Cauich cut his ankle monitor off shortly after Wednesday's stabbing.
"We asked the court to detain him," Boudin said in a news release. "It was our view and our written motion to the court that he should be detained and did not think he was safe to be released. We made that argument to the court."
Boudin has taken significant heat in the last six months following several high-profile cases of violent crime — including two vehicular manslaughter cases — in which the suspects were freed from jail in other cases last year and pretty quickly reoffended.
Most recently, a pair of Asian women waiting for a bus on Market Street last month were stabbed by a mentally ill man who had reportedly completed the city's Mental Health Diversion program last summer.
The victim in Wednesday's case, Ahn Taylor, spoke to ABC 7 from the hospital on Wednesday, alongside her niece, Viva Taylor.
Ahn, who goes by Peng, said there are "a lot of crazy people around" her neighborhood, and she's spoken with her niece recently about how San Francisco has changed over time. She's lived in the city since the 1970s, and was recently widowed.
Video of the unprovoked attack has been released, and the SF Police Officers Association (POA), which is frequently critical of the district attorney, said the stabbing looked like "a prison yard shanking."
⚠️ Trigger Warning ⚠️ New video shows the moment 94-year-old Anh ‘Peng’ Taylor was stabbed by 35-year-old Daniel Cauich Wednesday morning on Post Street near Leavenworth. Police arrested the suspect shortly after the unprovoked attack. More details tonight @kpixtv #sanfrancisco pic.twitter.com/Pg6zP0po8f— Betty Yu (@BettyKPIX) June 18, 2021
Lt. Tracy McCray, who is vice president of the POA, tells ABC 7 that Cauich could have been more severely charged or held longer at any point during the last year and a half.
"Mr. Cauich previously had been arrested within the past year and a half approximately six times for various crimes, most of them burglary-related crimes," McCray says.
As KPIX reports, the POA has put out a statement that lays blame for Cauich's release directly at Boudin's feet.
"How many times did Boudin downgrade a felony to a misdemeanor? How many charges did he dismiss? How many days in jail did Cauich serve? Chesa needs to stop deflecting blame," the POA said in a tweet.
Boudin responded on Twitter, saying, "It is troubling to see the POA exploit a tragedy for political motivations and spread misinformation to the public," and reiterating that his office recommended to the judge in the May case that Cauich not be released.
It is troubling to see the POA exploit a tragedy for political motivations and spread misinformation to the public.— Chesa Boudin 博徹思 (@chesaboudin) June 17, 2021
Just last month, after filing new felony charges, our office filed a motion to detain Mr. Cauich in jail. The court disagreed & released him on an ankle monitor.
Cauich was scheduled to be arraigned Friday afternoon, and Boudin's office formally filed charges against him of attempted murder, battery causing serious bodily injury, and elder abuse. He has not been charged with a hate crime, though investigators have said they are not yet sure whether the stabbing was motivated by racial animus.
This week, an opinion piece in the Washington Post attempted to reframe the conversation about this blame game, and the perception that Boudin has been lax with jailing repeat criminals. ABC 7 was implicated for falsely reporting that charges had been dropped against a juvenile in a violent carjacking case outside a Safeway involving an elderly woman in March, when in fact the charges had not been dropped and the prosecution was ongoing.
But Wednesday's stabbing adds more fodder to the argument, at least for those who don't see the judges' role in Cauich being out on the street.
Top image: A 2016 mugshot of Daniel Cauich, via the SFPD