Orange County Supervisor and district attorney candidate Todd Spitzer, who recently accused incumbent DA Tony Rackauckas of overseeing lax prosecutions that resulted in a local hate crime spike, on Monday pointed to an incident where someone who supposedly should have been in prison was instead out free to allegedly commit his second hate crime in just over a year.
A day after those reports, Tyson Theodore Mayfield had a court hearing for allegedly insulting a pregnant African American woman with racial insults, threatening her and, after she pepper sprayed him in self defense, running off with her purse. Mayfield, 42, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.
The incident happened at the Fullerton bus station on Sept. 17. On Sept. 4, 2017–which was Labor Day–Mayfield approached a Filipino/Turkish man he did not know, asked to borrow a lighter and, after the stranger informed he had no flame, became “agitated,” called the victim an unspecified racial slur and punched him multiple times.
Mayfield was originally charged with felony assault/hate crime causing injury with a sentencing enhancement for a prior strike conviction for mayhem in 2008 in Orange County, which could have landed him in state prison for multiple years. But he pleaded guilty on Oct. 20, 2017, to misdemeanor counts of violating a victim’s civil rights and causing a violent injury before Orange County Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino sentenced the defendant to a year in county jail. Mayfield, who was represented by Senior Deputy Public Defender Miles Jessup, was then released from custody for time served.
The prosecutor in court that day was Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez, but it is his boss Rackauckas who is to blame for going too lightly on Mayfield, in Spitzer’s view.
“After known bigot, Tyson Mayfield, violently assaulted an innocent victim in September 2017, Rackauckas’ office allowed a judge, by failing to object, to sentence this violent and dangerous criminal to a misdemeanor charge without a hate crime enhancement,” Spitzer says. “Mayfield was eligible for more than 10 years in state prison under the charges originally filed by prosecutors. Just after his early release, swastika-tattooed Mayfield went on to menace and attack innocent victims in our county because of Rackauckas’ failure of leadership last year.”
Spitzer accused Rackauckas of being more interested in racking up a conviction on paper than in taking “the necessary risks to keep the public safe from violent criminals, especially bigots like Tyson Mayfield.”
By failing to object to the plea deal in the September 2017 case or offering to have the victim testify under Marsy’s Law to more properly influence Judge Makino, Mayfield was instead free to strike again a year later, according to Spitzer.
“If Mayfield had been behind bars like he should have been, [the victim] would have been safe that day,” Spitzer says. “This happened on September 17, 2018, when Mayfield should have been in state prison for his previous hate crimes in 2017.
“The only reason Mayfield could assault innocents and terrorize the community again is because Tony Rackauckas did not do his job. Hate is up because Tony doesn’t fight for victims. He got his conviction, his stat and so he moves on not caring at all that Mayfield is now charged with his fourth victim in his criminal history.”
The final bit is a reference to Mayfield’s crimes before 2017 and, allegedly, again this year. In June 2008, he pleaded guilty to felony mayhem and was sentenced to four years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to a felony assault with a deadly weapon in February 2005, earning a two-year prison stretch.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.