SF DA says it objected to mental health diversion and release of man charged with 27 anti-Asian hate crimes

SF_VANDALISM_ATTACKS
  • Derik Barreto, 37, is facing a total 33 charges — including 27 hate crime enhancements — after allegedly going on an anti-Asian burglary and vandalism spree between April and August of last year.
  • Those enhancements accounted for a large portion of anti-Asian incidents reported in San Francisco last year, which rose to 60 from just nine in 2020.
  • Despite the scale of his alleged crimes, Barreto was recently reported to be out of custody on a mental health diversion program.
  • The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office told NextShark that they objected to both Barreto’s diversion and release, saying they believe he requires “a higher level of supervision.”

After it was reported that the man charged with more than half of San Francisco’s anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 is out of custody, the District Attorney’s Office of Chesa Boudin has clarified their objections to the court’s decision.

Derik Barreto, 37, allegedly vandalized and burglarized 20 Chinese-owned businesses and seven others across the city between April and August of last year. He was arrested on Aug. 11, according to the DA.

The DA subsequently filed 33 felony and misdemeanor charges against Barreto, which include vandalism and burglary. Additionally, the office filed 27 hate crime enhancements due to anti-Chinese statements he allegedly made to the police.

Previous reports stated that Barreto was charged with 31 hate crime enhancements, but the DA confirmed to NextShark that they only filed 27. The inaccuracy left the impression that Barreto was responsible for more than half of the 60 anti-Asian incidents reported as hate crimes to the city last year.

NextShark learned that of those 60 cases, 32 were presented to the DA for filing. Overall, the office charged 20 cases — not necessarily from the ones presented — with hate crimes in 2021.

Of those 20 cases, however, some had multiple hate crime enhancements, including Barreto’s case of 27. Despite the scale of his alleged offenses, Barreto was released on Dec. 23 after being granted Mental Health Diversion (MHD), according to the DA.

The DA told NextShark that they deemed Barreto a public safety risk from the beginning. They said they moved to detain Barreto without bail during his arraignment on Aug. 16, his first court appearance. The court granted the office’s request and ordered Barreto to be detained. In response, his defense attorney filed a motion to place the case on the MHD track.

MHD is a California law that allows a defendant to receive treatment under the monitoring of the MHD court. As it is a pretrial mechanism, it merely postpones prosecution and does not absolve the defendant of their charges.

A defendant must satisfy several requirements before being granted the diversion. These include: (1) a finding by the court that the defendant has a qualifying mental health disorder; (2) a finding by the court that the disorder was a “significant factor” in the commission of the crime; (3) a mental health professional stating that the defendant’s symptoms would respond to treatment; (4) the defendant consenting to diversion and waving their right to a speedy trial; (5) the defendant agreeing to comply with treatment; and (6) a finding by the court that the defendant does not pose a public safety risk.

Under the law, a defendant charged with more serious offenses cannot be placed into MHD. These offenses include murder and sexual crimes such as rape and those involving children.

The DA told NextShark that they filed a formal written opposition to Barreto’s diversion on Nov. 5. After hearing both sides, the court decided in favor of the program.

Barreto had spent around four months in jail when his attorney asked for his release. The DA said they objected to this as well, but the court ultimately decided to take Barreto out of custody.

“Although there are many cases that our office thinks are suitable for Mental Health Diversion, we did not believe this was one of them. Unfortunately, given the number of incidents committed by Mr. Barreto and the number of incidents targeting the Asian community, we believed this case required a higher level of supervision,” the DA told NextShark.

KPIX 5 first reported that Barreto was out of jail on Jan. 26. His attorney, Pam Herzig, responded by telling the outlet that Barreto has pleaded not guilty to his charges.

Barreto reportedly failed to attend a hearing scheduled on Jan. 31, and the court has since issued a bench warrant, according to the DA.

Featured Image via Gai Chicken Rice / Dion Lim

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