S.F.: Man arrested, charged for alleged hate crimes, battery on Muni bus


A man has been arrested and charged for alleged hate crimes on a Muni bus in San Francisco in February, police and prosecutors said.

Joseph Benjamin, 44, was charged with four counts of battery on a transit employee or passenger as well as three counts of violations of individuals’ civil rights for the alleged attacks, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced April 20.

On Feb. 16 at 9:30 a.m., someone uttered racially charged language to an Asian woman passenger on a Muni bus.

San Francisco police said a bystander intervened, and the suspect threw an egg at the man before getting off the bus and throwing another egg at the bus.

Police opened up an investigation into the case and identified a suspect who was believed to have been involved in at least two other recent incidents.

The first occurred on Feb. 13 at 10:17 a.m. and involved an assault on a Muni driver. Police said the suspect spit on two victims and was using threatening language.

Another victim reported having an encounter with the suspect on Dec. 25, 2022 and said the suspect made derogatory comments about her ethnicity and gender and threw food at her.

On April 14, police were patrolling the 500 block of Jones Street when they recognized the suspect, identified as Benjamin, and he was taken into custody.

He was arraigned April 19 and has since been released from custody, but is required to stay away from the victims and the Muni bus lines where the alleged attacks occurred, prosecutors said. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of all charges.

“Racially motivated crimes are unacceptable and will be prosecuted,” District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement about the charges. “San Francisco will continue to fight for justice and equity and seek to hold those who commit hate crimes accountable.”

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