SF public defender says attack on Asian senior not racially motivated

The video shows four unknown people attack the suspect minutes before he assaulted a 75-year-old grandmother.

Video Transcript

AMA DAETZ: To begin with new developments in an attack that happened on Market Street three weeks ago.

DAN NOYES: A San Francisco public defender has released new video hoping to change the narrative around a highly publicized attack on an Asian woman last month.

AMA DAETZ: ABC7 News reporter, Matt Boone, joins us live with that video, and what it reveals about this case, Matt.

MATT BOONE: Ama, you may remember this incident in which that woman was punched on Market Street, and witnesses said she then began hitting the assailant with a stick. The video shows all that, as well as what led up to it, which the public defender hopes will convince a judge that his client was not motivated by anti-Asian hate, but rather was a victim himself. A warning-- the video does show violence, which may be hard to watch.

The video begins the morning of March 17, showing the suspect 39-year-old transient Steven Jenkins in the UN Plaza. He's seen reaching over to grab something when he's confronted by someone in a red jacket. Then someone else comes in and kicks him from behind. A minute or so later, even more people start piling on him, striking him multiple times. The cameras then follow Jenkins as he walks several blocks away to Market and Seventh Street, but is followed by someone wearing a traffic vest, who then hits him again.

ERIC MCBURNEY: He's attacked by multiple people from multiple angles. He's at that point disoriented, possibly concussed. He's sustained about 40 blows to his head.

MATT BOONE: That's deputy public defender, Eric McBurney, who's representing Jenkins. What happens next shows the moment that Jenkins strikes 75-year-old Xiao Zhen Xie, but McBurney argues it was not due to racism.

ERIC MCBURNEY: It's important for the public and especially members of the API community to know that this is not racially motivated.

MATT BOONE: Jenkins has also been charged with assaulting 83-year-old Ngoc Pham that same morning, something the surveillance video does not show.

ERIC MCBURNEY: We are still investigating what happened between him and Mr. Pham if anything had happened. But the videos that you have is the entirety of what we were given by the DA's office.

MATT BOONE: In a statement, a spokesperson for the DA's office told ABC7 quote, "Our office filed the charges we believe the evidence supports. We look forward to presenting the evidence in court for a judge's ruling." Now to be clear the district attorney's office has not charged Jenkins with any hate crimes, rather he faces six counts of assault and battery. He's pleaded not guilty to all of those charges and is due back in court tomorrow. In the newsroom, Matt Boone, ABC7 News.