Castro Cafe Owner Claims Assault, Faults Cops
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Cafe Flore owner Stu Gerry is outraged that San Francisco police immediately released a Castro man who had allegedly assaulted two long-term employees.
"I am so pissed about this," Gerry told the Bay Area Reporter in an email.
"Not only are we not safe these days in the Castro, ... but the police are unwilling to protect us from bodily harm, and further unwilling to take action when bodily harm does occur," Gerry wrote.
The alleged assault took place Wednesday, September 7, at the front entrance to Cafe Flore, at the corner of Market and 16th streets. Two employees, spotted a man, identified as Vincent Raval, walking into the cafe and approached him to tell him he wasn't welcome at the restaurant.
"We'd had trouble with him before," Gerry said in an interview.
But Raval wouldn't leave and allegedly punched and kicked the employees. As he walked away from the cafe, one of the men took his picture, which was immediately turned into a circular that was delivered to local businesses and posted on social media, said Gerry. A police report was also filed.
Later that evening, police notified the Cafe Flore employees that they believed they had located the man, less than half a block from the eatery. The employees identified him and left, "glad that our quick response would take this man off the street," said Gerry.
But on Tuesday, September 20, Raval was spotted in Dolores Park, apparently "high as a kite," running around without pants, Gerry said.
It turned out that Raval had been cited by the police and released.
When a reporter told this to Gerry, he said, "I cannot believe they did not arrest him. Seems like the SFPD wants a dead body before they will take any action here."
Gerry later said he learned that it is "solely at the officer's discretion as to whether they take him in," a fact confirmed by Officer Giselle Talkoff, a San Francisco Police Department spokeswoman. Talkoff told the B.A.R. that a citation, or ticket, is considered a "citizen's arrest" and is routinely issued by SFPD when an officer does not personally witness the crime.
In this case, Raval was cited for misdemeanor trespassing and battery and released. The San Francisco District Attorney's office will review the evidence to see if Raval should be formally charged with the offenses, according to spokesman Max Szabo. If he is charged, his court date would probably be in October, Szabo told the B.A.R.
Raval could not be reached for comment.
Gerry has written to police officials and the DA's office "to get some answers about this."
"Everyone in the community needs to know who Vincent Raval is and needs to be on the alert," Gerry said. "No doubt about it. It's like a kick in the teeth to business owners in San Francisco who respect the police and try to work with them. They will hear our outrage."