‘We feel helpless’: Elderly Asian attack victims meet to call out SF DA for alleged mishandlings

san francisco
  • Anh Lê, 69, and Rong Xin Liao, 85, met for the first time on Monday in a mutual show of support as fellow victims of violence.
  • The defendants in both their cases had spent time in custody before being released.
  • The victims spoke out against the District Attorney’s Office for allegedly failing to keep them informed of their cases’ progress.

Two senior Asian attack victims in San Francisco met each other on Monday to speak out against the District Attorney’s Office for allegedly mishandling their cases and leaving them feeling “like garbage.”

Anh Lê, 69, visited 85-year-old Rong Xin Liao in his residence a week after Lê filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for allegedly failing to communicate critical updates in his case.

Lê claims he was attacked by Jimmy Tanner Sr. and his 11-year-old son while he was out for a walk in Chinatown on Nov. 2, 2019. Tanner allegedly threatened to kill him with a glass bottle, while his son allegedly struck him with a baseball bat.

Liao, on the other hand, was waiting for a bus in Tenderloin on Feb. 20, 2020, when 24-year-old Eric Ramos Hernandez allegedly kicked him on his seated walker. The incident was caught on surveillance video.

Lê and Rong each took their cases to court, but the defendants in both cases were released. The victims allege that they were blindsided by the decisions.

“I want the DA’s office to actually do what they’re supposed to do. If they try to cover it up or ignore it and not do their job, this wave of Asian crime will not be able to stop and will be even getting worse,” Liao, who only speaks Cantonese, said through an interpreter, according to ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim.

Hernandez reportedly spent seven months in custody before he was released on mental health diversion. After being convicted of a separate misdemeanor for trespassing, he was put back in the program in December.

After being detained for battery, felony elder abuse and felony terroristic threats, Tanner Sr. was released after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge in a plea deal with the District Attorney’s Office that allegedly occurred without Lê’s knowledge.

In his lawsuit, Lê accused the DA of violating Marsy’s Law, which preserves and protects a victim’s rights to due process. Liao believes this violation applies to his case as well.

“Marsy’s Law is actually part of the California Constitution… it’s not just a bill that was passed by the state legislature,” Greg Scott, former District Attorney of Shasta County — who is now part of Lê’s legal team at King & Spalding LLP — told NextShark. 

Scott believes there are two most important rights for a victim under the law: “[The victim has] the right to consult with and be made aware of any plea bargain that the prosecutor is considering before that plea bargain is offered to the defendant. The victim has the right to provide their thoughts or concerns around that potential plea bargain,” Scott explained.

“The second most important right is the right for a crime victim to do what we call ‘allocute.’ What that means is at the time of sentencing, before a judge formally imposes sentence on the criminal defendant, the crime victim has the constitutional right to address the court, to talk to the judge in open court, and provide really any input that that victim wants relative to what has happened to them, what they think the sentence should be, any of the factors that could be taken into account.”

Lê’s attorneys recently accused the DA of releasing “misleading” statements in response to the lawsuit. They denied that their client was contacted “more than two dozen times” and insisted that he had not been informed of a potential plea deal.

Tanner ultimately pled guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge in exchange for no jail time and a year of probation, according to Lê’s team, leaving Lê fearful for his safety.

“Asian American victims of crimes and hate crimes here in San Francisco have been treated like garbage,” Lê told ABC7 News.

Featured Image via ABC7 News

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