Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Man arrested in Castro arson


Photo: Rick Gerharter

A man is in jail for allegedly starting a fire in San Francisco’s Castro district Monday.

At 3:30 a.m. October 26, an anonymous caller reported that a man was “lighting a garbage can on fire” in the 500 block of Castro Street, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said in a summary.

Police arrived and arrested Raja Nair, 39, who was booked into custody on suspicion of arson of property and possession of an incendiary device.

He’s in custody on $400,000 bail, according to the sheriff’s department’s website, which doesn’t list an arraignment date. Police haven’t provided a booking photo.

A. Cabebe, a watch commander at the jail, said that Nair couldn’t be interviewed because he was in psychiatric housing and wasn’t able to give informed consent.

Court records indicate Nair has had other encounters with police in recent years.

In January, a man by the name of Raja Nair filed a $6.1 million personal injury lawsuit against the police department’s Southern station. (It couldn’t immediately be verified whether the plaintiff is the same man being charged in the arson.)

In his complaint, Nair said that in May 2014, he was in custody at the station, which was then at 850 Bryant Street, when police “negligence caused serious injuries” to him.

“The defendant’s medical technicians physically restrained plaintiff and hypodermically injected, into plaintiff’s gluteal area, right side, chemicals formulated for mental discomforts or other unknown purposes, against plaintiff’s verbal refusal, resulting in puncture of the sciatic nerve and serious injury to plaintiff,” the court documents say.

Nair says he was left with a “lack of sensation” in his right foot, lost wages, “increased risk of chronic nerve pain,” and “diminished enjoyment of life,” among other issues. He lost the lawsuit in September.

The documents list Nair’s address as 1171 Mission Street, which is the site of the city’s Medical Respite and Sobering Center. Officials weren’t immediately able to discuss Nair. According to its website, the center “provides specialized healthcare services to homeless patients” and “serves as an important discharge option for San Francisco General and private hospitals as well as a drop off point for individuals with chronic alcoholism in need of stabilization services.”

Nair’s complaint doesn’t say what case he was in custody for in May 2014 when police allegedly injured him, but court records indicate that month he was charged with two counts of vandalism. One count was for $400 or more worth of damage and the other was for $50,000 or more worth of damage. He was also charged with making criminal threats. Nair pleaded not guilty to all counts.

After a trial in April, he was found guilty of the lesser vandalism count and not guilty of the other. The criminal threats charge was dismissed, according to court documents.

Nair was ordered to pay restitution and attend groups at the Court Accountable Case Management Center. People referred to the center participate in workshops while waiting to be placed in residential or outpatient programs, according to the center’s website.

CACMC’s groups include harm reduction and “Don’t Get Mad, Get Hyphy!” anger management.




— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 29, 2015 @ 1:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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