Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 12 / 23 March 2017

Robberies, assaults reported in Castro, Dolores Park

Two people were robbed and two others were assaulted in incidents that occurred in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood and Dolores Park in recent days.

The assaults included a man being beaten at 18th and Castro streets and another man getting stabbed with a fork.

Monday, March 20

The robbery in the Castro started at about 8:25 p.m. as the victim, 30, sat at a table at a coffee shop in the 4000 block of 18th Street, according to Officer Robert Rueca, a police spokesman. A man in his early 20s approached the victim and asked him something, then took the victim’s laptop and fled.

The victim chased the suspect and recovered his laptop. The thief got into a vehicle with two other suspects, and they fled south on Hartford.

The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The first suspect was described as a black male. The second suspect was described as a Hispanic male aged 20 to 24. No description was available for the third suspect.

Sunday, March 19

At about midnight, a group of people “physically assaulted” a 20-year-old man at 18th and Castro, Rueca said. The victim, who had non-life threatening injuries, was taken to a hospital

Rueca didn’t offer details of how the victim was beaten, and no descriptions were available for the suspects.

Saturday, March 18

The suspect, a 43-year-old man, walked up to the victim, a 53-year-old man, and stabbed him with a fork at about 9 a.m. as the victim crossed the road in the 400 block of Sanchez Street. The victim was taken to a hospital and was in “stable” condition, Rueca said.

The suspect, described as a white male, was arrested, but Rueca declined to share his name or other information, citing pending identification matters.

Friday, March 17

Rueca said that at about 10:45 p.m., a man put down his camera “to look at a statue.” When he turned around, he saw a woman pick up the camera and pocket it. When the victim tried to get back his camera, she punched him.

The woman, 20, handed the camera to a man, 22, and they both fled east on 18th. The suspects were described as being Hispanic. No other details about them were available.

No injuries were listed for the victim, who’s 39.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 23, 2017 @ 7:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay man on life support after incident at Hecho bar in Castro

Abel from family

Abel Florentino (a.k.a. Abel Marquez)

The father of a gay San Francisco man who’d been acting violently at the Hecho Cantina in the Castro district Saturday night (March 11) says his son is on life support after first responders gave him a drug they shouldn’t have.

David Monroe shared with the Bay Area Reporter fire department records that say Abel Florentino, 36, was “violently causing a scene while breaking windows” at about 9 p.m. at Hecho, 2200 Market Street. When responders arrived, several people were restraining Florentino.

The records say that as Florentino continued to fight, “this crew administered 5 mg Versed IM” – a sedative also known as midazolam that’s often used before medical procedures – in an apparent effort to sedate him. As responders secured restraints on Florentino, he “became limp.”

Medical records say that about two minutes after Florentino was given versed, he was “noted to be apneic and pulseless.”

Monroe says that medical staff have told him that Florentino had methamphetamine in his system, and the records say alcohol could be smelled on his breath. The documents say that when Florentino arrived at the emergency room, he presented “for evaluation of cardiac arrest.”

Fire department records say that Florentino suffered cardiac arrest after emergency medical service providers arrived. The cause is listed as “drug overdose.”

A Gofundme page established for Florentino (who also uses his husband’s last name, Marquez) says he suffered a heart attack.

Monroe believes that the sedative is what led to Florentino being on life support, where he remains at San Francisco Zuckerberg General Hospital. (Monroe is Florentino’s stepfather but says Florentino referred to him as “Dad.”)

Police sergeants that Monroe says he’s spoken with didn’t immediately respond to the Bay Area Reporter’s requests for comment.

A fire department spokesman hasn’t responded to the B.A.R.’s messages, and a hospital spokeswoman declined to comment.

Hecho’s owners haven’t responded to interview requests.

Florentino’s family is asking any witnesses to the Hecho incident to send an email to

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, March 23 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 17, 2017 @ 4:38 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Out & Equal CEO stepping down

Selisse Berry (Photo: Out & Equal)

Selisse Berry (Photo: Out & Equal)

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates founder and longtime CEO Selisse Berry announced this week that she’s stepping down after more than 20 years with the San Francisco-based nonprofit.

Since Berry founded the organization in 1996, it has worked to ensure LGBT rights for workers at corporations around the world.

Berry will leave her post in August, but she’ll remain with Out & Equal in an advisory role, the organization said in a news release Wednesday (March 15).

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to create and lead this incredibly important organization,” Berry stated. “In partnership with hundreds of the world’s largest multi-national corporations we have achieved more for LGBT workplace equality than I ever dreamed possible 20 years ago.”

Out & Equal board co-chair and GE General Manager said, “When Selisse began her work in 1996, only four percent of Fortune 500 companies included sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. Today, 92 percent of them have inclusive policies. Selisse’s work transformed the landscape and showed what is possible when determination, collaboration, and vision come together.”

The nonprofit has launched an executive search for Berry’s replacement.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:39 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF politico’s child porn sentencing delayed

Juan Enrique Pearce (Photo: SFPD)

Juan Enrique Pearce (Photo: SFPD)

The sentencing on child pornography charges for a well-known political consultant who once campaigned for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and others has been delayed after a judge said he couldn’t be sentenced to home detention.

Juan Enrique Pearce, of San Francisco, who was jailed briefly after his May 2015 arrest, pleaded guilty in December 2016 to possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and buying or receiving stolen property, according to court records. In exchange, prosecutors had dismissed charges of possession of over 600 images depicting children “engaged in or simulating sexual conduct” – including at least 10 images showing children younger than 12, possession of sadomasochistic child or youth pornography. (The stolen property was a parking meter.)

Pearce had been set to do six months of home detention, but San Francisco Superior Court Judge Rene Nazarro told him Friday (March 10) that since Sheriff Vicki Hennessy had disapproved that plan, it wouldn’t be an option.

Navarro said that Pearce either needs to serve his six months in county jail, or withdraw his guilty plea and start criminal proceedings over again.

“Back to the drawing board,” Douglas Horngrad, Pearce’s attorney, said in court.

Pearce’s next court date is April 7, when he and his attorneys are expected to say what he wants to do.

Pearce declined to speak with reporters Friday morning as he entered the courtroom, and his attorneys rushed him away after the hearing.

A gay longtime city staffer previously told the Bay Area Reporter that Pearce had told him he’s gay.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 10, 2017 @ 5:29 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

LGBT mural in Castro tagged

Grafitti on a mural at  Market and 16th streets. (Photo: Peter Hartikka.)

Grafitti on a mural at Market and 16th streets. (Photo: Peter Hartikka.)

An LGBT-themed mural in San Francisco’s Castro district has been tagged with graffiti that obscures the lower portion of the painting.

The mural, which is on the side of the Castro Republic eatery, at Market and 16th streets, shows a man carrying a large rainbow flag, followed by two women on a motorcycle with a leather flag. It appears the tagging occurred early Wednesday morning (March 8).

The graffiti reads “” Messages can be posted directly to the site. The Bay Area Reporter twice posted messages, accompanied by a photo of the tagged mural, requesting that someone call the paper. No one has responded, and both messages were removed. The site’s administrator’s didn’t immediately respond to an email from the B.A.R.

David Rodriguez, 29, a Castro Republic server, hadn’t yet seen the graffiti when the B.A.R. visited the restaurant Thursday. When he went outside to look, he said, “Oh my god … that is so mean.”

Juan Reynoso, 36, who sells flowers at a kiosk next to the mural, said he first noticed the vandalism Wednesday morning.

In an email exchange with the B.A.R., Sergeant Michael Andraychak, a police spokesman, said, “While the department is aware of the ‘tag,’ to our knowledge, no one has filed a police report regarding the mural.”

Police “are familiar with the tag,” Andraychak said, and someone standing by the mural Thursday said that he’d seen it before, too, although he couldn’t recall where.

In January, Hoodline reported that the tag had been seen in numerous places, including in the Haight district. In an email exchange with the news site, administrative manager Olivia Lang said, “The Founders of Olevau do not support, promote or condone Destruction & Violence within the community,” she wrote. “Period. How the users of Olevau decide to express their love for the website is beyond our control. Olevau = Creation.”

The Castro Republic’s owner couldn’t be reached for comment. Rodriguez said the Castro Republic doesn’t have surveillance cameras outside.

Metal police barricades sat in front of the mural Thursday. Someone sent the B.A.R. a photo of the mural that was taken Wednesday night. The barricades were not in the photo.

Andraychak said police would like the artist or the property owner to contact them and file a report.

The police department’s graffiti abatement officer “follows up cases involving  significant damage,” Andraychak said.  He said anyone with tips or other information may email

Anyone with information regarding the vandalism at Castro Republic or the suspect is asked to contact the SFPD Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. Tips may be made anonymously.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 9, 2017 @ 6:04 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Two pepper sprayed in Castro robbery

The 2200 block of Market Street. (Image: Google)

The 2200 block of Market Street. (Image: Google)

Two people were pepper sprayed and one of them was robbed early Sunday in San Francisco’s Castro district, according to police.

The incident occurred at 2:45 a.m. March 5 in the 2200 block of Market Street when the three suspects, who were leaving a business, asked the victims a question, police said. As one of the victims replied, one of the suspects pepper sprayed the pair and took a backpack from one of them.

The victim chased the three suspects and recovered his bag. The suspects fled in a vehicle.

The victim who was robbed, a 45-year-old man, sustained a non-life threatening injury, according to police.

The suspects were described only as two white males and a Hispanic male.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 8, 2017 @ 4:37 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF’s ex-chief forensic toxicologist sues city

Dr. Nikolas Lemos (Photo: Facebook)

Dr. Nikolas Lemos (Photo: Facebook)

San Francisco’s former chief toxicologist is suing the city, claiming he resigned in 2016 after he was “instructed … to engage in unlawful activity” by assisting “an unlicensed forensic toxicologist to illegal perform DUI alcohol testing.”

In wrongful termination lawsuit filed in February in San Francisco Superior Court, Dr. Nikolas Lemos, who’s gay, says Christopher Wirowek, deputy director at the medical examiner’s office, told him to “comply now and grieve later” after Wirowek “personally recruited” Dr. Luke Rodda from Australia.

Lemos says that in July 2016, the state’s Forensic Alcohol program notified him that it would not certify Rodda “given his present credentials.”

“Mr. Wirowek’s instructions put plaintiff in an untenable situation,” Lemos’s complaint says. “If he was to sign off on Dr. Rodda’s test results and then attempt to support them in criminal trials, eh could be guilty of perjury. Conversely, if plaintiff refused to support the test results and it was ever learned why (i.e., because Dr. Rodda was conducting the tests illegally), then plaintiff’s professional integrity would be damaged irreparably for having knowingly allowed an unlicensed toxicologist to conduct DUI tests. Either way, plaintiff could not carry out Mr. Wirowek’s mandate to allow Dr. Rodda to be involved in DUI testing.”

Lemos resigned in July, and Rodda was named acting chief forensic toxicologist. According to the complaint, Rodda is still the interim head of toxicology at the medical examiner’s office.

Wirowek declined to comment. Rodda didn’t immediately respond to an interview request. Spokespeople for the state Forensic Alcohol program couldn’t be reached Monday morning (March 6).

In response to an email from the Bay Area Reporter, John Cote, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said, “We’re not going to comment on pending litigation.”

The B.A.R. will have more on this story in the Thursday, March 9 edition.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 6, 2017 @ 11:52 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Suspect yells obscenity, stabs victim in Castro


Photo: Rick Gerharter

A suspect “yelled out an obscenity” at a 24-year-old man and then stabbed him in the arm Sunday morning (February 26) in San Francisco’s Castro district, according to police.

The 1:15 a.m. incident occurred when the victim was walking near 18th and Castro streets and the suspect, who appeared to be 40, shouted at him. After the suspect stabbed the victim, the suspect fled eastbound on 18th, Officer Giselle Talkoff, a police spokeswoman, said in a summary.

The victim, whose injury was non-life threatening, was taken to a hospital.

The suspect was a white male, but no other details about him were available. No arrests have been made.

Talkoff didn’t respond to an email from the Bay Area Reporter asking whether the obscenity was an anti-LGBT slur.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 3, 2017 @ 5:37 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Diaz, jailed in assault, set to be released again

David Diaz in his 2016 booking photo. (Photo: SFPD)

David Diaz in his 2016 booking photo. (Photo: SFPD)

David Munoz Diaz, who was acquitted in 2014 of murdering another man during a sexual encounter in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park, and then released from jail in September 2016 in an unrelated arson case, is set to be released from custody soon in his latest case, an alleged assault.

Diaz, 27, pleaded guilty Thursday (February 23) to felony false imprisonment and is expected to be sentenced March 16 to up to five years of probation. He’ll be released that day. His probation conditions will include a midnight curfew and up to a year of wearing an ankle monitor.

The case stems from a November 29 incident in which Diaz allegedly handcuffed and bit a chunk out of another man’s scalp while impersonating a police officer. Assault and other counts were dismissed Thursday. Diaz has been in custody since the November incident.

Outside the courtroom Thursday, Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young said that Diaz’s alleged victim had actually been the first to strike during the incident, and Diaz had a “very, very strong self-defense” case.

In 2014, Diaz stood trial for the June 2011 death of Freddy Canul-Arguello, 23, in Buena Vista Park. In his testimony, Diaz testified that Canul-Arguello had asked to be choked during a sexual encounter and that he’d accidentally killed him.

Diaz said he’d set fire to a cup in a recycling bin to signal for help. The melted bin was found with Canul-Arguello’s heavily charred body.

Jurors acquitted Diaz of second-degree murder but convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, arson, mutilating human remains, and destroying evidence. He was released in September 2014 after spending more than three years in custody. Superior Court Judge Donald Sullivan dismissed the arson count.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, March 2 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 23, 2017 @ 3:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Trump administration rescinds trans student protections

Politico reported late Wednesday afternoon (February 22) that the Trump administration told schools that an Obama directive aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students has given rise to lawsuits and confusion – so it’s pulling it back.

A guidance letter to schools, released by the Justice and Education departments, said the administration has “decided to withdraw and rescind” the Obama directive “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved,” Politico reported.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next month in a case about the rights of a transgender student, Gavin Grimm, in a Virginia public high school. On Tuesday night, the Justice Department advised the justices about the federal government policy change – a move which could lead the high court to drop the pending case and leave the legal issue to be resolved at a later date, Politico reported.

Local officials blasted the administration’s actions.

“President Trump is on a crusade to Make America Hate Again and LGBT Americans must join other people of conscience to stop him,” gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said in a statement. “As a public school parent, I’m outraged and saddened that he would deny young people respect, dignity and the ability to live as their authentic selves. We shouldn’t be surprised given how little regard he gives to public education in the first place. As a San Franciscan, I remain committed to speaking out against hatred and organizing to ensure equality for all. Moving backwards in our path toward equality is unacceptable.”

San Francisco school officials also weighed in.

“Today’s decision to rescind protections against transgender students is a misguided act that will victimize children most in need of our support,” gay interim San Francisco school superintendent Myong Leigh, school board President Shamann Walton, and Mayor Ed Lee said in a joint statement.

Leigh, Walton, and Lee said that “All students deserve to learn in an atmosphere that is free of fear and discrimination. While attending school, no child should feel overwhelmed by the simple decision of which bathroom to use, or fear the consequences of entering a locker room.”

The San Francisco Unified School District has a policy in place that explicitly prohibits gender-based discrimination, a protection that extends to everyone, including transgender students, the statement said. “San Francisco is proud that we were the first City in the country to include those safeguards to our transgender student body. We will continue to honor those policies and ensure that all of our students feel safe and comfortable when they enter our classrooms.”

“We became the first city in the nation to appoint a Transgender Initiatives Adviser to hasten the implementation of policies and protections for the transgender community. At a time when civil rights are under attack, we will continue to work locally to protect all of our residents from harassment and discrimination,” Leigh, Walton, and Lee stated.

— Cynthia Laird, February 22, 2017 @ 6:06 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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