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A San Francisco business owner is arrested after spraying homeless woman with a hose

A San Francisco art gallery owner who was seen on video spraying water on a homeless woman with a hose has been arrested, according to authorities. Here, San Francisco police cars sit parked in front of the Hall of Justice on February 27, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif.
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A San Francisco art gallery owner who was seen on video spraying water on a homeless woman with a hose has been arrested, according to authorities. Here, San Francisco police cars sit parked in front of the Hall of Justice on February 27, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif.

Police have arrested a San Francisco art gallery owner who was caught on video spraying a homeless woman with a water hose.

Collier Gwin, 71, is facing a charge of misdemeanor battery after his Wednesday arrest. In a tweet, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said that Gwin intentionally and unlawfully sprayed water on a homeless woman, who has not been publicly identified, sitting on a sidewalk outside his gallery on Jan. 9.

Jenkins' office said it issued an arrest warrant for Gwin after reviewing evidence from an investigation conducted by the San Francisco Police Department. He was subsequently booked at a county jail. The case remains an open investigation, the San Francisco Police Department said in a statement.

"The alleged battery of an unhoused member of our community is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gwin will face appropriate consequences for his actions," Jenkins said on Twitter.

In the Jan. 9 video captured of the incident by a nearby store owner, Gwin — the owner of Foster Gwin Gallery in downtown San Francisco — is shown in the frame repeatedly shouting "Move!" at the woman, who is shown sitting on the ground trying to block the water with her hands as she spoke.

The woman attempted to speak to Gwin, but it is unclear what she said to him.

Gwin stopped spraying the water to point down the street saying to the woman "Hey, just move! Move. Move. Move. OK, are you going to move?"

The San Francisco Street Crisis Response Team, a city-run program designed to help homeless people experiencing mental health and substance use crises, responded to the scene and helped the woman who was sprayed, authorities said.

After the video was shared across social media, the front window at Gwin's gallery was shattered, according to The Los Angeles Times. In a statement on Twitter, District Attorney Jenkins condemned the vandalism done to Gwin's gallery.

"The vandalism at Foster Gwin gallery is also completely unacceptable and must stop — two wrongs do not make a right," she said.

Representatives for Gwin did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment on the incident.

In an interview before his arrest with San Francisco TV station ABC7, Gwin apologized for his actions, saying he is "deeply apologetic."

"I completely broke. I am not equipped or trained to deal with a city-wide problem like [homelessness] ... I have the video to remind me that this is a large cross the bear," Gwin told ABC7.

If convicted, Gwin could face up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine, authorities said.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.