December 14, 2018: A victim of an attack in the Tenderloin is acquitted for attempted murder
San Francisco—A man who was jumped and beaten in the Tenderloin was acquitted for attempted murder on Thursday, Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Cheasarack Chong, 29, was defending himself when he stabbed one of his attackers, Deputy Public Defender Crystal Carpino said. “Mr. Chong is a hardworking young man who came to SF in 2017 to make a better life for himself,” said Carpino. “He never expected that he would land in jail for defending himself from an unprovoked attack.” Mr. Chong testified that he was on his way to work on Taylor Street in July when a man accused him of walking over his feet. The man reared up and threw a punch at Mr. Chong, missing him, and Mr. Chong kicked the man back in self-defense. An onlooker saw this skirmish, and, assuming Mr. Chong was the aggressor, confronted him and then pushed him several times. Mr. Chong hit him back in self-defense. Jurors could see Mr. Chong on video, backing up and trying to extricate himself from the situation, until another stranger arrived and intervened. As the video showed, the stranger put down his bags and began beating Mr. Chong, knocking him down to the ground. Others then joined in, and Mr. Chong could be seen being beaten by three people, including the man who first accused him of walking over his feet. During this attack, his wallet was stolen and his glasses were knocked off his face. Eventually Mr. Chong escaped the attack and ran across the street to call 911. He told the police what happened and was transferred the hospital to have his wounds treated. When he was later released, he testified that he realized that he had to go back to the scene of the assault to look for remnants of his wallet and most importantly, his glasses. He can’t see without them and needed them in order to go to work. Being a bit nervous to go back there, he felt that he should bring a knife with him just in case, he testified. Mr. Chong was captured on surveillance video looking in the gutter for his glasses when his original aggressor began to taunt him and threatened to beat him up again. When the aggressor reached into his bag, Mr. Chong said he feared for his life, and he stabbed the man in self-defense. The wound resulted in a cut to the man’s arm and chest, neither of which required stitches, staples, or glue. “Mr. Chong demonstrated strength and honesty when he testified about why he went back to look for his glasses,” said Carpino. “Fortunately, the jury took this case very seriously and rendered the correct verdict.”
The jury remained hung 9 to 3 for guilt on a second charge of assault with a deadly weapon, but fully exonerated Mr. Chong for attempted murder. Had he been convicted, he would have been facing life in prison, Carpino said.
“Mr. Chong was the victim of a vicious assault and did what he had to do when confronted again as he tried to get back his meager possessions,” said Adachi. “The jury understood the trauma and fear he experienced and rightly voted not guilty.”