Allegations of a horrible-sounding baseball-bat attack against an Asian senior sounds a little less horrible as we learn that the baseball bat was a plastic toy, and the alleged attackers were a disabled man in a wheelchair and an 11-year-old boy.
When 69-year-old Ahn Lê filed a federal lawsuit against SF district attorney Chesa Boudin on Tuesday over an alleged 2019 attack against him in Chinatown, the details sounded genuinely appalling. As KPIX explained at the time, “The 69-year-old said he was beaten with a baseball bat by a father-son duo while walking in Chinatown in November 2019,” and “Lê is now suing the District Attorney’s office and the city, alleging his rights as a victim were ignored, saying the defendant was given the option to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, without being informed.”
“It was the most brutal, terrifying and humiliating experience of my life,” Lê said at a press conference. Even actor Daniel Dae Kim (Jin from Lost!) chimed in to support Lê’s case, as it drew nationwide scrutiny because Boudin did not file hate crime charges against the alleged attackers.
I applaud the bravery of Mr. Le in the face of two injustices: the first by his attacker and the second by the SF DA's office. It's time Chesa Boudin's treatment of the AAPI community is called to account, but don't take my word for it, take Mr. Le's:https://t.co/6sP8YeRELe https://t.co/o21u9C9pa2— Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim) January 26, 2022
But those applying that nationwide scrutiny did not realize that it was Boudin's predecessor Suzy Loftus who filed the charges, and she chose not to prosecute it as a hate crime. And as KPIX reports in a follow-up with a rebuttal from Boudin’s office, the baseball bat was a plastic toy baseball bat, the alleged attacker was in a wheelchair, and the individual wielding the plastic bat was an 11-year-old boy.
But let's be clear, this was a child with a toy baseball bat, not a grown man beating an elder with a wooden or metal bat. I understand that some folks think we should criminalize children, but this is absurd.— John Hamasaki (@HamasakiLaw) January 27, 2022
A press release from Boudin’s office notes that Lê “wanted [the alleged attacker’s] child to be prosecuted” (which… this is an 11-year-old!). The release adds that “Photographs taken by police at the scene do not depict any physical injuries to Mr. Le.”
But the core of Lê’s complaint is that he was not informed of any plea deals or lack of hate crime charges, which Boudin’s office disputes. The release says Boudin’s office “reached out to contact Mr. Lê over two dozen times, including efforts to reach him by phone, email, and mail.”
“In his lawsuit, Mr. Lê falsely asserted that our office settled the case without consulting him or receiving any input from him. This is not accurate,” the release continues. “Mr. Lê and the [DA’s] advocate communicated many times, but for a period of weeks, Mr. Lê did not respond to repeated messages from the advocate.”
A man struck with a plastic bat in SF claimed he was ignored by the DA's office. Records show he was contacted more than 2 dozen times. Via @rachelswan and @meganrcassidy https://t.co/Re6Q6p6t60— Dom Fracassa (@DominicFracassa) January 28, 2022
Sure, that’s just a press release. But the Chronicle dug into the details with their own "separately obtained" documents and found that “The records detail how a victim advocate from the office reached out to the victim, Anh Lê, more than two dozen times, leaving several messages in the week leading up to a plea deal.”
So we have two white reporters colluding with the white DA to shame an Asian victim. Just when I thought they couldn’t go any lower. https://t.co/Yz3TNH8XhE— The Marina Times (@TheMarinaTimes) January 28, 2022
We should note that Lê is also an occasional contributor to the Marina Times — a virulently anti-Boudin publication, whose editor emeritus is involved in some manner in a $60,000 VC-backed Batman-themed newsletter that's also critical of Boudin. (Lê also shares a few bylines at the Examiner.)
The case of the alleged attack has already had its day in court. (Per Boudin’s office: “On April 12, 2021, the case resolved in court for a plea deal to a battery charge, which included probation and a stayaway order.”) Since Lê is suing Boudin, that case too will have its day in court. And maybe there will be more evidence of which we are not currently aware.
But it’s fair to wonder if this latest lawsuit and its publicity is some sort of recall Chesa Boudin influence campaign, intended to get innuendo out from coast to coast, with hard-hitting allegations that eventually turn out to have come from a plastic bat.
Related: ‘Recall Chesa’ Campaign Hit With Ethics Complaint Over Alleged Ad Violations [SFist]
Image: @chesaboudin via Twitter