A man with more than a dozen assault convictions was arrested in downtown Seattle last week, accused of throwing coffee in the face of a toddler just days after being released from jail.
Francisco Robledo Calderon, 55, was let out of King County Jail on Thursday after serving the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor assault conviction. On Saturday, he was arrested near Westlake Center by Seattle police. He was charged in Seattle Municipal Court on Wednesday with misdemeanor assault, with bail set at $50,000.
Calderon has become a symbol in the debate over how Seattle’s criminal justice system should handle cases involving people who are repeatedly arrested, particularly those with mental illness or chemical dependency. According to court documents, Calderon has been living on the streets, which he has said makes it difficult to stop using drugs.
Calderon has been convicted of assault 14 times, in addition to dozens of other convictions including property crimes, drug possession and theft, according to a presentencing investigation from January by a probation counselor.
According to a police report, Calderon walked into the Gap store on Fifth Avenue on Saturday around 8 p.m. and approached a boy, who was around 2 years old and in a stroller, multiple times. After being kicked out of the store, Calderon began yelling at people nearby, according to police. Police received reports that he grabbed a woman, tried to start a fight with a passerby and grabbed a cup of coffee from someone on Pine Street.
When the child from the store and the child’s father walked by, witnesses said Calderon removed the lid from the coffee cup and threw the liquid onto the child’s face, according to police. The boy’s father then fought Calderon, and an off-duty Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputy detained Calderon until Seattle police arrived.
The boy did not appear to be injured or burned, and nobody was sure how hot the liquid was, according to the police report. His mother cleaned him up in a nearby restroom. The boy appeared to be in shock when an officer tried to speak to him, according to police.
Calderon initially told police he tripped and spilled the coffee. He then told police he was very tired, not elaborating further on what happened, according to police.
He was taken to Harborview Medical Center for unrelated medical issues and was booked into King County Jail on investigation of assault of a child Monday.
Calderon was released from jail on Thursday after serving time for assaulting a stranger on a downtown Seattle street last year, records show.
In January, Seattle Municipal Court Judge Ed McKenna had sentenced him to 364 days in jail with credit for time served, against the recommendations outlined in a plea deal. Under the deal, Calderon would have been ordered to have a mental-health evaluation, substance-abuse treatment and two years of probation with credit for 50 days in jail. It wasn’t immediately clear if he was released Thursday because of good behavior.
When a probation counselor first tried to meet with Calderon for an interview in December, Calderon refused to talk, saying he didn’t care if it affected his sentencing. Calderon eventually spoke to the counselor and, according to the presentencing investigation report, said he had used meth and cocaine since he was a teenager, which led him to commit theft and property crimes. He told the counselor that a lack of housing made it hard for him to stay away from drugs, because he was living on the street.
“Mr. Calderon also advised Probation that he believes it ‘doesn’t make sense to relapse again’ and that he’d ‘rather be on Probation and have housing’ than continue using non-prescribed drugs and/or alcohol and remain incarcerated,” the counselor wrote.
The counselor determined that despite Calderon’s many offenses, Probation Services would be willing to work with him if he followed treatment and supervision plans.
McKenna’s decision to give Calderon the maximum sentence was cited in a letter by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and Department of Public Defense Director Anita Khandelwal accusing McKenna of improper conduct and pushing for harsher sentences. McKenna denied improper conduct.
Seattle Times researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.