On July 10, the Pacific Heights home of James Juanillo, who posted a widely seen video of a couple accusing him of defacing property, was decorated with signs calling for justice. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

New audio of couple calling police on SF man bolsters racial bias claims, supe says

Pacific Heights incident spurred CAREN Act to outlaw discriminatory reports to police

A newly released audio recording of a couple calling the police on a man stencilling “Black Lives Matter” outside his home in Pacific Heights further demonstrates that the incident was racially motivated, a San Francisco supervisor said Friday.

In the audio obtained Thursday by the San Francisco Examiner through a public records request, a male caller can be heard telling an operator that he witnessed a man “defacing” property that “obviously” did not belong to him.

“We were out on a walk and we just asked him ‘is this your property?’ And he refuses to answer because it’s obviously not,” the caller said. “He starts filming us and our only point was ‘is this your property? Because if it’s not, it’s not OK to deface private property.’”

S.F. Examiner · Pacific Heights BLM police call

When pressed by the operator, the caller admitted he did not know who lived there, but said “we see them walking by.” He also referred to the man as “Hispanic” when asked for a description of the person.

It would later turn out that the man, Jaime Juanillo, was a longtime renter of the building in question who identifies as Filipino, he told news outlets. The house is located on Gough Street in one of the most affluent and white neighborhoods in San Francisco.

The June 9 incident sparked outrage when Juanillo posted a video to social media that showed the couple questioning him. The footage drew comparisons to other cases from across the nation where white women, referred to as “Karens,” call the cops on people of color.

The new recording also reveals that the woman in this case predicted her fate.

“I don’t appreciate him taking my picture,” the woman can be heard saying in the background of the call. “I’m [unintelligible] a business in San Francisco and I don’t really want to be on social media and he yelled at me calling me a Karen.”

For Supervisor Shamann Walton, who introduced the CAREN Act (the acronym stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies) on Tuesday to make racially discriminatory reports to law enforcement unlawful, the call demonstrated the couple’s entitlement and was “definitely” racially motivated.

“Where do they get off saying that this person doesn’t live there?” Walton said after the Examiner played him the recording. “Because he doesn’t look like them?”

“These are the types of things that have to stop happening,” Walton said. “You can’t just call 911 because somebody is different.”

If approved, his legislation would outlaw discriminatory reports to law enforcement based on race, ethicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. It would allow the victim of such a call to pursue civil penalties of no less than $1,000.

The audio also shows that the couple was aware their actions were questionable since the woman complained about being called a “Karen,” Walton said.

“They are conscious of what they are doing, how they are being depicted and they still decided that this was something that they had to do,” he said.

The couple has since been identified as local business owner Lisa Alexander and Robert Larkins, who was reportedly fired from a financial firm called Raymond James in the fallout of the incident.

Alexander, who runs a company called LaFace Skincare, defended herself in a letter to the Board of Supervisors Friday obtained by the Examiner.

“When I walked up to Mr. Juanillo that Tuesday, I had no idea what his race was nor what he was messaging,” Alexander wrote. “All I saw was a person I did not know writing on a neighbor’s wall, and I thought I was being a good neighbor. When I approached him, it was from behind, and he was wearing a COVID mask. Neither his race, nor mine, was a consideration, at all.”

Alexander also said she did, in fact, know the owner of the property and that “no one called 911.”

In a text to the Examiner, she said they called the non-emergency number for the San Francisco Police Department.

“We never considered this an emergency situation at all and he (Robert) stated that,” Alexander said.

Regardless, Walton’s legislation would not be limited to 911 calls but any racially discriminatory reports to law enforcement.


Attempts to locate Larkins for comment were unsuccessful.

Like Alexander, he also previously issued an apology in a statement to ABC7.

“Over the last two days, I have had my eyes opened wide to my own ignorance of racial inequity, and I have thought about my own personal blind spots,” Larkins wrote. “I was wrong to question Mr. Juanillo, and I was wrong to call the neighborhood police watch. It was wrong, and I am profoundly sorry for treating him with disrespect.”

Juanillo did not respond to requests for comment.

This story has been updated to include additional comment.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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