Elderly Man Sues San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin Over Handling Of Anti-Asian Attack

(Photo by RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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An elderly Asian American filed a federal lawsuit against San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office over the alleged mishandling of an anti-Asian hate crime in November 2019.

Anh Lê, a 69-year-old Vietnamese American, accused the DA’s office of mishandling an incident when a father and son threatened to kill him and consistently struck him with a baseball bat, NextShark reported. He is now suing the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office under the Fourteenth Amendment for allegedly incorporating procedures that discriminate against Asian Americans and “deny” victims due process protections.

The attack occurred in front of a Chinese grocery store on 1118 Stockton St., where the 69-year-old asked the son, riding his bicycle, to be careful on the crowded sidewalks, the outlet reported. The teenage boy then pulled out a baseball bat from his mother’s bag and struck Lê several times. The father, Jimmy Tanner Sr., raised a glass bottle and threatened to kill him.

Lê said Tanner’s wife reportedly watched the incident “with glee,” the outlet reported. Lê described the attack as brutal and terrifying, adding that the incident has since remained with him, the outlet reported. Court documents revealed that he suffers from PTSD and spent 52 weeks in psychiatric therapy.

“I pleaded with the Tanners to stop, but they relished in their ability to inflict pain and fear on a defenseless senior citizen,” he told the outlet. “The attack was the most brutal, terrifying, and humiliating experience of my life, and has stayed with me ever since.” (RELATED: ‘We Are Literally Fearing For Our Lives’: Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Reportedly Increased During Pandemic) 

“Ever since November 2019, I cannot help but picture the attack over and over again. I no longer feel safe walking the streets of our city, as I used to love to do,” he said. “I look over my shoulder and wonder if there are people who want to hurt me, because I am Asian American.”

The Tanners reportedly targeted other Asian Americans the same day in Chinatown, the outlet reported. The teenager reportedly used the same baseball bat on another Asian American in an S&M Ginseng Inc. and Chinese Herbal Store at 1000 Stockton St. The family allegedly attacked a family near Broadway and Stockton St., just a few blocks away from the attack on Lê.

Lê notified the police of the incident which led to the Tanners’ arrest, the outlet reported. Tanner Sr. was charged with battery, felony elder abuse and felony terroristic threats.

The San Francisco DA’s Office declined to prosecute the father-and-son duo on hate crime charges and sentenced Tanner Sr. to a year of probation and no jail time without Lê’s knowledge, the outlet reported. The office reportedly did not provide the victim the opportunity to issue a victim impact statement during court proceedings.

The office also refused to correct Lê’s name and incorrect age written on a Criminal Protective Order (CPO) as “Anh L,” the outlet reported. Lê attempted to contact the CPO to make the corrections, but continued to allegedly ignore him despite obtaining pro bono counsel. The office reportedly told him that he had no right to attend the hearings.

He also filed a claim against the City and County of San Francisco who could have violated constitutional violations in connection to the incident, the outlet reported. Quyen Ta, a member of King & Spalding, a legal counsel representing Lê, said they are “grateful” for the Alliance for Asian American Justice (AAPI) and are “proud” to represent the victim for speaking out against the DA office’s inaction.

“We are grateful that the Alliance for Asian American Justice brought this case to our attention,” Ta said. “We are proud to represent Mr. Lê, a courageous Vietnamese American hate crime victim who is willing to speak out to ensure that other AAPI hate crime victims will be treated fairly by the San Francisco DA’s office.”

“We look forward to working with the DA’s office to ensure that victims like Mr. Lê have a voice in the criminal justice system—including during the sentencing of defendants who have attacked AAPI victims.”