Mayor Lee: SF Police ‘Moving Fast’ to Re-evaluate Use of Force Options

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Community / Controversy / Law & Order NAACP Advises San Francisco to Remain Calm After Mario Woods Shooting.

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s police chief renewed calls Monday for adding Tasers to his department’s arsenal, saying the electrical “stun guns” could have prevented officers from shooting to death a knife-wielding suspect last week. The San Francisco Police Department’s use of force tactics and policies will be re-evaluated following the fatal shooting of a knife-carrying man by several officers in the Bayview last week, officials said.SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Monday is directing the city’s police chief to equip officers with body shields and new policies on use of lethal force following last week’s fatal officer-involved shooting.

Following the officer shooting of 26-year-old Mario Woods last week, San Francisco residents are calling for the resignation of Police Chief Greg Suhr. The changes come on the heels of the killing of Mario Woods, 26, whose death at the hands of five police officers was recorded in videos, which were shared across social media. At the top of the agency’s agenda will be considering whether officers should carry Tasers — a step long opposed by community activists who have argued the devices are dangerous and don’t do much to preven officers’ use of firearms.

Mario Woods, an African-American male, died after at least five officers fired at him about 15 times near Keith Street and Fitzgerald Streets in San Francisco’s Bayview District last Wednesday. During a community meeting on Friday, an outraged group of Bayview residents demanded that Suhr step down, after he said the cops who shot Woods in the neighborhood were justified. The mayor said other equipment and tactics should also be considered, including shields that could protect officers in encounters with suspects who have edged weapons, such as knives. The department already has some 60 riot shields, which are used by sheriff’s departments for extractions and are part of the model used in the United Kingdom to detain suspects with edged weapons, Suhr said.

Several residents and community leaders called for Chief Greg Suhr’s resignation during a three-hour meeting Friday he convened at a church a few blocks from the shooting. Suhr also expects to call for equipping officers with Tasers, or stun guns, as a less-lethal alternative to firearms — a move which has been hotly contested by the Police Commission and Board of Supervisors over the years. The incident immediately sparked outrage, with the ACLU’s Northern California chapter declaring that the video of the shooting “does not appear to show the imminent danger or substantial risk of death or serious injury that would permit the use of a firearm under SFPD policy.” Public Defender Jeff Adachi told KQED, “I understand that officers are trained to kill, but if we are going to expect ordinary citizens to only shoot and kill people where they believe they are in danger of being killed themselves, we should hold police officers to a similar standard. Referencing a blown-up photo of Woods holding a knife with his arm outstretched, Suhr argued that the 26-year-old was a threat to the cops at the scene. He maintained the officers fired “in defense” of themselves and other people in the vicinity, adding that they first tried to subdue Woods with pepper spray and beanbag rounds.

They pointed out that the officers could have found another way to disarm Woods, since British police successfully took down a man wielding a machete without killing him. Three of the officers on scene at the Woods shooting were trained in Crisis Intervention Training, Suhr said, which means they have knowledge of de-escalation techniques. “I saw the video, I found it very upsetting as many did, and it raised a lot of questions,” Lee said. “We owe all of San Francisco, communities of color and the Woods family a full and transparent investigation without delay.”

Last year, 30 cops spent close to six minutes trying to disarm the man without firing their guns, which showed that dangerous people can be subdued without lethal force. “You get up here [at these meetings] and you tell the same version of events,” said activist Adriana Camerena. “You tell a narrative that someone poses a threat. A KQED analysis of the video shows that the police gunfire actually began a fraction of a second before Woods extended his arm and that his movement may have been a response to being hit by a bullet. So let me say again very clearly… black lives do matter, and as mayor I commit that we’ll take all necessary steps to prevent these kinds of incidences when possible, to ensure public safety, protect the lives of our young people and maintain officer safety.” Its [sic] not against the law to put an animal down.” Another said, “All n****** must fucking hang.” “N****** should be spayed,” read a third. According to the California Department of Justice, black people in San Francisco are seven times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts.

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