San Francisco man injured in alleged hate crime
by Seth Hemmelgarn
A gay San Francisco man was allegedly punched in the face after he and his friends were called "stupid faggots" near Union Square around midnight Sunday, November 23.
Jerry Deal, 32, the alleged victim, said that after suspect Andrew Duhamel, 29, punched him and ran away, he chased down Duhamel and Duhamel's three companions.
Duhamel pleaded not guilty Monday, December 1 to felony charges of making a criminal threat with an allegation of a hate crime; violation of an individual's civil rights; and assault. He was also ordered to stay 150 yards away from Deal and not to try to contact him in any way.
Duhamel, who appeared in San Francisco Superior Court out of custody with attorney Andrea Hartsough, declined to comment to the Bay Area Reporter. If convicted he could face time in state prison.
According to Inspector Mike Morley with the San Francisco Police Department's hate crimes unit, Duhamel, who appears to be about 5 feet 9 inches with a muscular build, is from Valley Springs, California, which is between Stockton and Lake Tahoe.
Deal said the incident started when he and his friends were outside the Donatello Hotel, which is on Post Street a block away from Union Square, just before midnight. Duhamel, another male and two females walked by. Deal said he's not certain, but it seemed only one person was yelling "Stupid faggots!" apparently referring to the clothes Deal and his friends were wearing.
Deal said he was wearing black cowboy boots, black jeans, and a black leather jacket, one friend was wearing a white suit, and another friend was wearing a velvet suit.
"San Francisco doesn't tolerate [that] ... you can take that back to wherever you came from," Deal recalled saying.
He said Duhamel's response was akin to, "'Oh, you stupid faggots' ... and other things like that."
Deal said Duhamel then went into the street and in front of a parked car, then came up from behind the car, pounced on him, and hit him across the face. Deal said he fell to the ground, and Duhamel and the three people with him ran off.
Deal said he got up and told others to call 911.
Then, he said, "all I could do was chase after them."
He said he doesn't know why he did it, and laughed when he recalled the chase.
"Looking back, it was probably really stupid of me, but I didn't want to see them getting away ... you don't hit anyone and get away with it," especially not in San Francisco, said Deal.
He chased them as they ran down Post Street toward Taylor Street and caught up with one of the females, telling her, "Please stop and help me."
Deal said the female screamed and acted like he was attacking her, but he told her, "I need you to stop and help me." He said he was on the phone to 911 during this time.
Deal said after the group came back, he backed off. Deal's friends had caught up with him by this point.
Duhamel and his friends took off running and turned down Taylor, said Deal. He started chasing them but lost them briefly before spotting them inside a parking garage. Deal said when he ran in front of the garage, "all four of them came after me" and the man who was with Duhamel "grabbed me and cornered me and pushed me into a doorway," pinning him against a wall.
Deal said the four were saying "you stupid faggot! Die faggot! Why are you trying to ruin our lives? ... We should just kill you, stupid faggots!"
While he was being cornered – and still on the line with 911 – the operator asked to speak to one of the females, so Deal handed the phone to her. He said after the female spoke to the 911 operator, she gave the phone back and said, "We have to go now, just leave the faggots."
They were near Union Square and by then, Deal said, police cars were at all intersections. He said once the others were in police custody they were saying, "It was the stupid faggot's fault."
Morley said Duhamel was arrested at Geary and Mason streets. The police inspector declined to offer specific details of the incident but generally confirmed Deal's account. The male who had been with Duhamel was detained for public drunkenness, but Deal declined to press charges against him. Morley would not name the man since he hasn't been charged with anything.
Deal, who said, "the police were amazing" and "the fire department and rescue squad were very nice to me and my friends," said he's lived "all over the place," including Texas and New York, and has never experienced a hate crime. He said the fact that it would happen here is "shocking."
He declined to go to the emergency room. The incident left him with an injured eye and an abrasion on his cheek but doesn't seem to have dulled his sense of humor.
"My eye opens up after about noon, like a flower," Deal said a few days after the incident in a phone interview. "Lots of color – some yellow, some green, some purple ... my friends are saying it's a very fall color."
In an e-mail, referring to the possibility of getting the 911 tapes, Deal wrote, "I am not all that sure what I even said when the adrenaline took over."
He said that he had a difficult time telling his family, who live in Ohio, about the incident, and informed his parents through his brother.
"It's almost like coming out all over again to your parents when you have to admit a violent crime has been committed just because of what they worry about" – being gay, said Deal.
Corbett Griffith, 29, who was with Deal during the incident, confirmed the general circumstances. Griffith, who had been wearing a white suit, also maintained his sense of humor when recalling what the incident must have looked like.
"We're not drag queens," he said, but he and his friends were "dressed with a flourish" as they chased Duhamel and his companions.
Duhamel was in custody for about a day. His bail had been set at $38,000, based on the charges at the time of his arrest. The next court date is December 18.