SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Questions are being raised after a man accused of being involved in over two dozen hate crimes committed against the API community last year was allowed to be out of custody despite the number of charges against him.
According to the San Francisco District Attorney's office, 37-year-old Derik Barreto is the man responsible for more than half of all reported hate crimes against the API community in San Francisco last year.
Barreto is scheduled to appear in court at the end of the month. Prosecutors argued against mental health diversion for the defendant, who has been charged, but is not in custody right now.
Surveillance video from several Chinese-owned San Francisco businesses captured a man on a scooter last summer, smashing windows, sometimes with a slingshot, entering stores, burglarizing, and vandalizing property.
Authorities said Barreto is the man responsible for a string of 27 separate attacks, many in the Ingleside neighborhood, Chinatown, and in the Ocean Avenue corridor, that haunted business owners between April and August of last year.
"His target was the Asian community. So what would have happened if any of those victims were inside the stores and tried to defend themselves? This could have easily escalated into something much worse," said former San Francisco Mayoral candidate Richie Greeberg.
District Attorney's Chesa Boudin's office charged Barreto soon after police arrested him in August with 27 felony counts of vandalism, four felony counts of second degree burglary, one misdemeanor count of possession of burglary tools, along with one misdemeanor count of possession of a concealed weapon.
Barreto was also charged with 31 hate crime enhancements, which authorities said were based on racially charged statements he made.
A judge granted Barreto mental health diversion in September, according to the DA's office.
"There still needs to be an accountability mechanism, there needs to be a way to monitor, to be able to check and see what he's doing and not just let him out. Again, that's what the law in California is, Marsy's Law. They need to know where they are, for their own protection," said Greenberg.
"The real question is who's responsible for making that decision?" said Emily Lee of the San Francisco Rising Action Fund. "If the judge has so much power, then why are we blaming the public defender or the DA? They don't actually get to decide."
Law enforcement officials say many crimes end up not being reported. Stop AAPI Hate tallied at least 931 hate incidents in the Bay Area in 2021.
In an email to KPIX 5, Barreto's attorney Pam Herzig said her client has pleaded not guilty. Barreto is scheduled to appear in court on January 31.
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