Suspect in Market Street stabbing fails to show up in court

Man with history of mental illness faces attempted murder, elder abuse and assault charges

District Attorney Chesa Boudin asked a judge Friday to hold a man with a history of mental health issues in custody after police arrested the attempted murder suspect in connection with the high-profile stabbing of two women along San Francisco’s Market Street.

Representing his office inside the Hall of Justice courtroom, Boudin argued 54-year-old Patrick Thompson should remain behind bars while awaiting trial for allegedly stabbing the victims, ages 63 and 85, with a knife as they stood at a bus stop near Fourth and Market streets Tuesday.

Thompson has been charged with two counts of attempted murder along with elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon in the attack, which was captured on video that has been broadcast by television news outlets. The video appears to show a man approaching the two women from behind and stabbing them without provocation.

The stabbings made national news because the two victims are Asian, raising questions about whether race played a factor in the attack. While the investigation is ongoing, Police Chief Bill Scott has said earlier this week there is no evidence of the incident being motivated by hate or prejudice.

During the attack, the 85-year-old victim’s lung was punctured, requiring extensive surgery. The knife used to attack the second victim had to be removed by medics at the hospital, prosecutors said.

Thompson was set to be arraigned on Friday afternoon; however, he refused to come to court from jail, Thompson’s attorney Deputy Public Defender Eric Fleischaker said in court. The arraignment has been continued to Monday.

Boudin said on Thursday he visited both victims and their families at the hospital.

“The strength and courage of these women is inspiring,” Boudin said in a statement. “Their pain was tangible and will serve as a constant reminder of the importance of our work to make San Francisco safer for all. I am grateful to the medical team at San Francisco General Hospital, who helped to make sure the victims are still with us today.”

Protesters hold signs outside the Hall of Justice following the scheduled arraignment of Patrick Thompson. Thompson did not appear in court Friday because he refused to leave jail. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Protesters hold signs outside the Hall of Justice following the scheduled arraignment of Patrick Thompson. Thompson did not appear in court Friday because he refused to leave jail. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Although Thompson has been charged, the investigation is ongoing and Boudin’s office is looking into whether there’s evidence to support hate crime charges in the case.

Thompson was previously arrested in April of 2020 in connection with a warrant from a prior arrest; when officers located him, he was in possession of a drug pipe, prosecutors said.

Before that, Thompson was arrested in 2017 and when a judge found him incompetent to stand trial, he was sent to Napa State Hospital. Upon his return, a judge allowed Thompson to be released from custody in order to enter a Mental Health Diversion program at the request of his defense attorney, prosecutors said.

Boudin’s office acknowledged new methods are needed to help treat people with mental health and substance use issues and called on legislators to push for more resources.

“What happened is a devastating tragedy, and we will use the full force of our office’s resources to prosecute this case. We also need to work hard to stop the next crime from happening, and that involves prevention and treatment. Mr. Thompson needed intensive supervision and services – which he received during Mental Health Diversion and which prevented new criminal behavior. We need far more intensive tools that keep people who are mentally ill treated and supported so that they do not reoffend even when there is no pending criminal case. We have always known that we need to strengthen mental health services in this city so that we can prevent crimes from happening in the first place,” Boudin’s office said.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association, which has been critical of Boudin in the past, alleged Thompson’s 2017 arrest was in connection with an unprovoked stabbing, similar to the most recent case.

“This is Chesa Boudin’s San Francisco, where repeat offenders get second, third, and fourth chances while victims are left bleeding in our streets,” the SFPOA said. “Boudin’s latest blunder is shameful, and his catch and release policies for violent criminals are leading to more and more victims. We have had enough.”

“We ask that the public reserve judgement of Mr. Thompson as we continue to gather more information. This is not a hate crime. Even in our early evaluation of this incident, nothing indicates that this was racially motivated,” Fleischaker said of his client.

“Mr. Thompson has suffered from mental health issues his entire adult life and is someone who thrives when given proper care — as he did for the nearly two years that he was part of the rigorous, court-mandated Mental Health Diversion program, where he was able to live independently without incident and participate in his own healing. Sadly, many life-saving social services have not been available during the COVID crisis and the lack of consistent care led to this situation, which is tragic for all involved. We extend our greatest sympathies to the victims in this case and wish them a full and speedy recovery,” Fleischaker said.

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