Man seen on video spraying water from hose on homeless woman

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 4:23 AM CST
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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) - A San Francisco art gallery owner, caught on video spraying a homeless woman with a hose, is stopping short of apologizing and is, instead, defending his actions.

Edson Garcia, co-owner of Brioche Café, was on his way to deliver a catering order Monday morning when he says something disturbing caught his eye.

“I turned to the side and saw the guy pouring water to the lady,” he said.

Garcia recorded cell phone video that shows a man with a hose telling a woman to move and spraying her with water. The incident happened while San Francisco was dealing with torrential rains.

Garcia says he has seen the woman, who is believed to be homeless, in the North Beach neighborhood before and has never found her to be belligerent. He says given the weather conditions, he found the man’s actions especially cruel.

“It was cold and raining. She was screaming, saying, ‘OK, I’ll move.’ It’s not fair to see people doing stuff like that,” Garcia said. “You want people to respect you, you have to respect them, no?”

The man with the hose has been identified as Collier Gwin, an art gallery owner. He admitted to his actions but says he is not apologizing.

“I totally understand what an awful thing that is to do, but I also understand what an awful thing it is to leave her on the streets,” Gwin said.

Gwin says there were repeated attempts to help the woman over the past couple weeks.

“We called the police. There must be 25 calls on record. It’s two days in a homeless shelter, two days in jail, and then, they drop them right back on the street,” he said.

Gwin says when the woman refused to move Monday and resisted help, he sprayed her down as a last resort. Despite receiving threats, he says he’s not ready to apologize.

“I find it hard to apologize when we’ve had no help with the situation,” he said.

While multiple others in the area describe the woman in the video as a nuisance, homeless advocates say service can be slow at times, but there are better ways to deal with these situations.

Laketha Pierce is with the Coalition on Homelessness, a nonprofit working on a program to deplay specialists to assist those experiencing a crisis. She denounced Gwin’s actions, saying no matter the frustration, the behavior is unacceptable.

She has these suggestions for how to help those in crisis:

“Consistently dialing 311, consistently trying to get or looking up different mental health services that are in San Francisco. Some places provide emergency services where they might be able to come out to a person that is going through crisis,” Pierce said.

The incident happened outside of Barbarossa Lounge, a business next to the art gallery. One of the lounge’s owners says they’ve received threats because of the video and want people to understand they had nothing to do with what occurred.