FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2021
CONTACT: SF Public Defender’s Office – Valerie.Ibarra@sfgov.org – (628)249-7946
SF Jury Acquits Graffiti Artist of Assault Charges Stemming from Vigilante Incident
Public Defender presented case of self-defense
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, a San Francisco jury acquitted Anthony Portillo, 29, of charges stemming from a 2017 incident in which Mr. Portillo fought off a vigilante who wanted him to stop spray-painting a dumpster. Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof argued that this was a case of self-defense.
“By all accounts, this vigilante was the aggressor and yet Mr. Portillo, who was lawfully defending himself, was the one arrested and charged with mayhem, battery, and assault,” said Mr. Maloof. “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Portillo’s family had to lose money on bailing him out, and that he had these charges hanging over his head for over four years, but Mr. Portillo and I are thankful that the jury understood the facts of the case and rightfully found him not guilty.”
On July 18, 2017, Mr. Portillo was driving on Beach Street with his family when he parked and got out to spray paint a nearby dumpster which was already covered in graffiti. A man who was sitting in his car across the street noticed what was happening and started taking pictures. The man got out of his car and closed the 50-100 foot distance, taking pictures of Mr. Portillo’s car, license plate, and was eventually mere inches from his face before hitting Mr. Portillo with his phone. Mr. Portillo grabbed the phone and threw it, but the man grabbed and hit Mr. Portillo, and the men became entangled in a fight. According to the man’s statement to police, he was angry that Mr. Portillo had ignored his verbal commands to stop spray-painting.
“I had no choice but to defend myself. What am I supposed to do? Just get beat up?” said Mr. Portillo.
Mr. Maloof pointed to statements made to police and medical personnel and during trial testimony that showed that the man who had approached was the aggressor and had to be restrained by his own wife and colleague. A bystander video showed Mr. Portillo holding him off and asking the bystander, “Tell him to stop.” Another video has the audio of a woman’s voice, Mr. Portillo’s girlfriend, saying, “I have a baby in the car. Just leave us alone.”
Although Mr. Portillo and his family attempted to tell officers at the scene that he had defended himself against an attack, the police arrested Mr. Portillo and booked him on serious felony charges.
“I’m proud of Mr. Maloof and his team for having the courage to take this case to trial and revealing the fuller picture of the incident through direct and cross examination. I am grateful that the jury carefully reviewed the evidence and found that Mr. Portillo acted in self defense,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju.
The defense team included Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, Investigators Gary Sourifman and Greg Jowdy who gathered early evidence, and Deputy Public Defender Roberto Evangelista who conducted an earlier hearing in this case.