Seattle, WA – A habitual offender accused of throwing coffee on a toddler just 48 hours after he latest release from jail will not be facing a felony charge in connection with the attack, according to prosecutors.
Francisco Calderon has been convicted of over 70 offenses over the past four decades, KIRO reported.
On July 18, the lifelong offender was released from jail after serving eight months for attacking and assaulting a stranger, according to KOMO.
Two days later, he was harassing shoppers and causing disturbances in the downtown area of Pine Street and Fifth Avenue, witnesses said.
“He was being belligerent to people on the street,” U.S. Army veteran Daynard Butler told KOMO.
Butler, who lives in Florida, was visiting the city with his wife and three children at the time.
“He followed a lady, and I started thinking to myself, 'if he does something to this lady I’m going to have to step in because she’s by herself,” recalled Butler.
Calderon inexplicably became more agitated, and began yelling “Not your father!” KIRO reported.
He then spun around, and threw his coffee in the face of Butler’s two-year-old son, who was sleeping in a stroller.
“To me, I didn't know if the coffee was boiling hot or anything,” Butler told KOMO. “All I knew is he tossed it in my kid's face and as a father I protected my kid.”
“I went straight for him,” the army veteran said. “I hit with rights – straight to the face. I was very mindful of the situation after a couple of blows, I knew I couldn't kill him, you know what I mean?”
A Kittitas County Sheriff’s detective working an off-duty security job at a Nordstrom’s store spotted the altercation, and rushed in to detain Calderon, KIRO reported.
The little boy did not suffer severe injuries as a result of the attack.
“The victim did not appear to be physically injured or burned, but was not communicative and appeared to be staring off into space, possibly in shock,” according to the police report.
The habitual offender was initially arrested on pending charges of assault on a child, and was expected to appear in court on Tuesday afternoon, KOMO reported.
But when the time for his hearing rolled around, Judge Annie Harper announced that the felony charge against Calderon had been reduced.
“Mr. Calderon is being released without conditions on the felony charge...he has been filed in Seattle Municipal Court on a misdemeanor charge,” Harper said. “He remains detained but not on the felony. That is by decision of King County Prosecutor's Office and Seattle City Attorney.”
The King County Prosecutor’s Office said that there was not sufficient evidence to support a felony charge against Calderon, because Butler’s son did not suffer bodily harm, KOMO reported.
“In evaluating whether there is sufficient evidence to support a felony charge, we are ethically bound to apply the facts of a particular case to the law as established by the legislature. This is regardless of the history of a particular defendant or the outrageousness of the conduct,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
“In order to elevate an assault against a child from a gross misdemeanor to a felony, there must be some level of bodily harm to the victim,” the statement continued. “We learned from the police report that the child, thankfully, did not appear to have been injured in any way and we were told that the child received no medical treatment. In other words, the facts of this particular case didn’t support this being a felony.”
The prosecutor’s office noted that the attack was “horrible and abusive,” and said that the matter has been referred to Seattle Municipal Court.
According to court records, 15 of Calderon’s 74 criminal convictions were due to assault.
His sister, Anna Calderon Barnett, said that her brother needs to be removed from society so his mental health and drug addiction issues can be addressed, KIRO reported.
“To me, it’s almost like … he knows he’s not capable of taking care of himself, and he knows that he doesn’t have the mental capacity to fit in, and he just attacks people or he’ll commit some kind of a crime, because he knows the next step is ‘I’ll be taken off the street,'” Barnett explained.
“His last words to me from prison were ‘I don’t want to go back out there — I don’t know how to live,’ and he’s right. I think this is what’s being overlooked,” she added.
Butler said he was shocked to learn about Calderon’s extensive criminal history, KOMO reported.
“I don't understand why, with 73 convictions, he was out. That’s crazy," the father said. “But it looked like he was looking for a way to get arrested, he was looking for a way to get back to jail, that's how it looked to me.”