The San Francisco district attorney’s office said Monday it is withdrawing charges and pursuing a “restorative justice” model against a 20-year-old man arrested in the robbery of an elderly Asian man in his 70s that was captured on a video that went viral.
The move came a day after a second suspect in the robbery surrendered to police. Jonathan Amerson, 56, was booked Sunday for investigation of two counts each of robbery and elder abuse, police said in press release Monday.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin campaigned heavily last year on a progressive criminal justice platform that included restorative justice, which relies on reconciliation with victims over punishment of offenders.
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Dwayne Grayson, 20, was booked last week on suspicion of robbery, elder abuse, a hate crime charge and probation violation following the Feb. 22 incident. Police say he recorded the robbery, which included someone yelling a racial slur.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Boudin pulled back the charges after having a conversation with the victim. The victim has not been identified or spoken publicly about the incident.
“We’ve been in conversation with the victim who expressed interest in a restorative justice outcome in this case,” said Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office. “Specifically, against the young person who videoed the incident. We respect victims and their desires and we will explore a restorative justice outcome.”
Bastian said the office has the option to file charges if restorative justice does not work.
Amerson’s surrender came after a video of the robbery was posted to social media on Feb. 23, sparking widespread outrage. It wasn’t immediately known whether Amerson has an attorney who could speak for him.
Authorities said Amerson is suspected of robbing the same victim of his recyclables about two months ago in the same area.
The video showed a man believed to be Amerson threatening and swinging a pole at an Asian man who was trying to get back a shopping cart presumably loaded with aluminum cans he had collected.
A person recording the video told the victim to “go get your cans” and someone said: “I hate Asians.”
Later, the victim was shown weeping. Several people were standing around in the Bayview neighborhood, but none intervened and some jeered and mocked him.