The one-time SF fire commissioner who was allegedly assaulted by a homeless man, but faces counter-accusations that he bear-sprayed that man, will refuse to testify in that assault trial. And his attorney admitted his client is “not an angel.”

One of the strangest SF news stories of 2023 is apparently going to continue to be strange into 2024. Days after the fatal April stabbing of tech executive Bob Lee, another story popped up which many in the press jumped the gun with the conclusions like “San Fran OUT OF CONTROL.” Former SF fire commissioner Don Carmignani said he was brutally attacked with a metal pipe by a homeless man in the Marina, an attack that left him with a broken jaw and fractured skull.

But the narrative quickly changed when the suspect, then-24-year-old unhoused man Garrett Doty, said Carmignani bear-sprayed him first, and alleged that Carmignani may have been behind as many as eight such unprovoked bear spray attacks on unhoused people. Doty has been released from jail, but still faces assault charges, and the case continues to attract national attention, as with a recent New York Times Magazine piece examining the politics at competing narratives at play.

Well, Doty’s assault trial started Friday, but Carmignani may be wondering who’s on trial here. Carmigani did not show up for Friday’s proceedings, prompting SF Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ross to threaten Carmignini with jail time if he wasn’t there for Monday’s proceedings.

Well, Carmignani was at the courthouse Monday. But the Chronicle reports the surprise news that Carmignani will not testify, and thus will not have to answer to whether he had any role in the alleged bear-spray attacks.

“It is effectively throwing a bomb into our case that could go off … (or) could not,” the case’s prosecutor, assistant DA Kourtney Bell said Monday. Bell also said in Friday’s arguments that "Mr. Carmignani is not an angel."

So appearances indicate that there is some information Carmignani may be unwilling to discuss on the witness stand. Either way, Carmignani is not the one on trial for assault. That is Mr. Doty, and the trial will resume Wednesday morning when the jury hears testimony from witnesses in Doty’s defense.

Related: Charges May Be Dropped Against Homeless Man Who Struck Former Fire Commissioner With Metal Pipe [SFist]

Photo via surveillance