Joseph Benjamin is charged with battery and violating the civil rights of multiple people aboard Muni buses.
San Francisco, CA – Today, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced that Joseph Benjamin (44), has been charged with four counts of battery on a transit employee or passenger in connection to two incidents aboard SFMTA Muni buses. Mr. Benjamin is also charged with three counts of violation of individuals’ civil rights (PC 422.6). In one incident on February 13, 2023 Mr. Benjamin is alleged to have spit on an Asian American driver of a Muni bus while making disparaging remarks. In another incident on February 16, 2023, Mr. Benjamin is alleged to have thrown eggs at two Asian American Muni passengers he had been harassing and a third passenger who intervened to try to stop the harassment.
“Racially motivated crimes are unacceptable and will be prosecuted,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “San Francisco will continue to fight for justice and equity and seek to hold those who commit hate crimes accountable. Hate crimes profoundly impact victims and are toxic to our community that strives to be a safe haven that is open and welcoming to all people.”
Mr. Benjamin was arraigned on April 19, 2023. He is currently out of custody and required to stay away from the victims and the SFMTA Muni 38 and 38R lines. He faces up to seven years in State Prison if convicted of all charges and all allegations are found to be true.
Hate Crime charges were filed in this case because prosecutors have evidence that the crimes were motivated by animus towards people of Asian descent. The hate crime charges require proving that the defendant committed the offenses because of the victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or association with a person or group with one or more of those actual or perceived characteristics.
Prosecution of this case will be handled by the Vulnerable Victims Unit established by District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. The Vulnerable Victims Unit oversees prosecutions of crimes perpetrated against vulnerable victims, which includes victims of hate crimes and most cases involving victims of physical or financial abuse over the age of 65.
Although, charges have been filed, this remains an active investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the San Francisco Police Department Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.
Court Number: 23005583