San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin triggered criticism on social media for appearing to downplay the motive of a young African-American suspect accused of viciously assaulting an elderly Asian American man.
A graphic video surveillance video of the attack, which took place in late January in San Francisco, shows Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai resident, leisurely walking in the city Anza Vista neighborhood.
Then, a young man is seen charging Vicha without provocation, and ramming his body into the elderly man, slamming Vicha on the ground.
Vicha was taken to a hospital but died of his injuries two days later.
It was one of a series of seemingly unprovoked assaults and racial taunts and insults against Asian Americans in California in recent months, particularly targeting the elderly, in what critics have claimed are assaults motivated by ethnic intolerance towards Asians amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Antoine Watson, the 19-year-old who assaulted Vicha, was arrested and charged with murder and elder abuse.
The district attorney claimed that Watson, who pleaded not guilty, was not motivated by racial animus when he allegedly murdered Vicha, citing Watson’s attorney as saying their client had a sudden “outburst of rage,” according to The New York Times.
ABC7 reporter Dion Lim cited Boudin as describing Watson’s behavior as a “temper tantrum.”
Lim said she obtained police documents that reportedly said Watson was caught on surveillance camera walking to his car after the attack, grabbing his phone, and filming Vicha as he lay dying.
“I also obtained police documents showing Antoine Watson was seen on surveillance going to a BMW after the crime— retrieving a cell phone & walk back to Ratanapakdee & appear to take photos of him as he was dying,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Vicha’s family was horrified when I relayed this to them,” she added.
A spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department could not confirm this statement, Fox News reported.
I also obtained police documents showing Antoine Watson was seen on surveillance going to a BMW after the crime— retrieving a cell phone & walk back to Ratanapakdee & appear to take photos of him as he was dying.
Vicha’s family was horrified when I relayed this to them. (2/3) pic.twitter.com/vVbMQnaW5U
— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) March 2, 2021
A spokesperson for Boudin said he made the remark “regarding Mr. Watson’s behavior prior to the murder” and said Boudin “charged the killing of Mr. Ratanapakdee as a murder, the most serious crime on the books.”
After Boudin made the statement to the Times, the hashtags #JusticeForVicha and #StopAsianHate started circulating on social media, according to Fox.
“These violent assaults have a devastating impact on our community as they are part of an alarming rise in anti-Asian American hate during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate co-founders Manjusha Kulkarni and Cynthia Choi said in a joint statement.
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Author: Damjan Tutarkov
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