SFPOA calls for judge who released homeless man arrested in attack to be reassigned

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The San Francisco Police Officer’s Association is calling for the judge who released a homeless man arrested for attacking a woman to be reassigned.

The SFPOA called Judge Christine Van Aken’s decision to release 25-year-old Austin James Vincent “reckless” and asked for her to be reassigned to traffic court.

“Judge Christine Van Aken’s continued tenure overseeing criminal cases is a danger to every law-abiding resident of San Francisco,” the association said in a statement Thursday. “She may have been a reasonably competent civil attorney but she is a catastrophe of a criminal judge.”

Vincent was arrested early Sunday morning for attacking Paneez Kosarian outside of the Watermark apartment complex near Beale and Bryant Streets.

The shocking security footage shows Vincent assaulting Kosarian as he tries to stop her from entering the complex. Kosarian said he told her everyone is a robot and he is the last human on earth.

Kosarian was able to get away with the help of the front desk woman but she was left with bruising and nerve damage.

Vincent was arraigned Tuesday after entering a plea of not guilty to charges of false imprisonment, attempted robbery and two counts of battery. Judge Aken ordered him to report to a caseworker on condition of his release.

His release was against the recommendation of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Mayor London Breed told KRON4 Thursday that she also believed the judge’s decision was a mistake, but said punishment for the judge is not her decision.

“I think it’s really unfortunate what happened,” Breed said. “I think the judge, unfortunately, made a huge mistake. [The homeless] person is a danger to society.”

Below is SFPOA’s full statement regarding Vincent’s release:

“Judge Christine Van Aken’s continued tenure overseeing criminal cases is a danger to every law-abiding resident of San Francisco. Her reckless decision to release Austin James Vincent from custody after his video- taped violent assault on Paneez Kosarian validates our call for the presiding judge to reassign Van Aken to traffic court.

The interests of crime victims should matter. Van Aken’s decision unnecessarily puts Ms. Kosarian at risk.

Van Aken’s release of Vincent was over the district attorney’s objection and ran afoul of the release recommendation of the public safety assessment tool. This release of an individual who clearly is in dire need of a mental health intervention puts every San Franciscan who comes in contact with Vincent in immediate danger.

Van Aken should not be allowed to preside over any criminal cases. She may have been a reasonably competent civil attorney but she is a catastrophe of a criminal judge.”

Tony Montoya,
President, San Francisco Police Officers Association

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