By Ankita Joshi
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Earlier this week, Anh Lê, a 69-year-old Chinese man, who was the victim of an attack, opted to drop his federal lawsuit against the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office in favor of mediation.
On Nov. 2, 2019, Lê had been taking a walk in Chinatown when a father and son had threatened to kill him, and repeatedly hit him with a baseball bat.
In a previous press conference, Lê had claimed that Jimmy Tanner, the father, had threatened to kill him with a glass bottle, while his 11-year-old son repeatedly hit him with a baseball bat.
“It was the most brutal, terrifying and humiliating experience of my life,” Lê said.
Lê complained he was not given a chance to submit and read a victim statement in court, that the office refused to file a Criminal Protective Order that omitted Lê’s last name, that Lê’s age was misstated, and that Tanner was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge without Lê’s knowledge.
The main point of contention, however, was that Lê believes that the attack was motivated by racism, and objects to the office’s decision to not charge Tanner with a hate crime.
Tanner was able to plead guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge in exchange for no jail time, and a year of probation.
And while Boudin’s office is facing most of the criticism behind this decision, Suzy Loftus, the previous DA, was the one who filed the charges against Tanner and opted not to prosecute it as a hate crime.
Additionally, a KPIX report found that the baseball bat in the incident was actually a plastic toy bat wielded by the 11-year-old son, and Tanner was in a wheelchair.
At the time, Lê’s legal team denied those claims, alleging that, “Mr. Tanner followed him on foot when he chased Mr. Lê with a glass bottle and was on foot when he attacked others the same day.”
It was also noted in their report that Lê was not sure if the bat used by Tanner’s son to allegedly attack him was plastic, but that it was “3 feet long, solid and painful.”
A press release from Boudin’s office outlines that Lê “wanted Mr. Tanner to be sentenced to state prison and wanted his child to be prosecuted,” and that “photographs taken by police at the scene do not depict any physical injuries to Mr. Le.”
The report also goes on to note that the victim advocate on the case had reached out to Lê “over two dozen times” to discuss the potential resolution, but had not heard back from Lê.
Nonetheless, earlier this week, Lê’s legal team released the following statement to NextShark:
“Mr. Lê has maintained from the moment this case was filed that his goal was to bring about positive change for Asian American victims of crime in San Francisco. In an effort to bring about that change, he has decided to collaborate and engage with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office in mediation to find a solution that creates a safe haven for all Asian Americans in San Francisco.
“As a show of good faith in that mediation, Mr. Lê has voluntarily dismissed his claim without prejudice giving him the right to refile the case if an agreement cannot be reached through mediation. It is our sincere hope that we can find a collaborative solution so that Mr. Lê and other Asian Americans know that the justice system respects their rights and hears their voice.”
In response to this, Boudin told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I welcome the opportunity to work in good faith with anyone who shares my commitment to expanding and improving victim services, particularly for vulnerable elderly or limited English speaking members of our community.”