A man seen in a viral video spraying a mentally ill homeless woman with a garden hose outside his San Francisco art gallery agreed to a deal that allows him to avoid jail time in exchange for completing community service hours at a church.
A judge this week approved a pretrial diversion agreement for Collier Gwin. In the deal reached with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, Gwin will volunteer 35 hours at Third Baptist Church with civil rights leader Rev. Amos Brown. Gwin was also ordered to abide by the terms of a protective order, prosecutors said.
If he completes the program, the charge against him will be dismissed, and he will have no criminal record. If he is arrested, the court may end diversion and order resumption of the criminal proceedings, officials said.
In a statement emailed to Law&Crime, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins called it a sensible resolution.
“Although we asked for more service hours, we are satisfied with the court’s order,” she said. “I am hopeful that Mr. Gwin will complete all programmatic requirements and take the time working with Third Baptist to develop a greater understanding, respect, and empathy for the plight of unhoused people in our community.”
Gwin said in a statement he would continue to make amends after letting his frustration “get the better of me” after more than two weeks of trying to help the woman.
“I look forward to working with Rev. Dr. Amos Brown and Third Baptist Church,” he said. “I should not have tried to take matters into my own hands.”
Gwin’s attorney Douglas L. Rappaport said in the statement that it was an act of frustration after weeks of attempts to get police and social services agencies to help the woman.
He said that 25 days before the incident, the city’s emergency management office received 50 calls from Gwin’s neighborhood about homelessness. The attorney said that 25 days before the incident, the city’s emergency management office received 50 calls from Gwin’s neighborhood about homelessness.
Merchants described the woman who was sprayed as severely mentally ill and behaving in ways that frightened and offended customers and employees, Rappaport said, citing the police report.
“Collier has paid a high price, with physical damage to his property and immense reputational damage from the video of the event,” the statement said. “Sadly, there is no video – but there are many records – of his and his neighbors’ numerous attempts to assist the woman prior to this incident.”
San Francisco police said the drama went down at noon on Jan. 9. Police responded to a report of a possible assault in the 700 block of Montgomery Street. When they arrived, police found Gwin and a woman in a dispute, but both parties declined further police action, officials said.
The San Francisco Street Crisis Response Team provided service options to the victim, authorities said. A police report was taken, and investigators took over the case. Prosecutors later charged Gwin with misdemeanor battery.
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Collier Gwin avoids jail time for spraying homeless woman
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