San Francisco police chief wants to arm officers with Tasers

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Law & Order Police to Reconsider Use of Force Policy after Killing of Mario Woods.

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced Monday that following a fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man in the city’s Bayview District last week he is working with the Police Department and police commission to prioritize deescalation and minimize use of force.Then came the SFPD shooting of Mario Woods, a 26-year-old Black man who was fired on and killed by multiple officers in the Bayview after attempts to subdue him with bean bag guns were insufficient in SFPD’s estimation. Video of the shooting, showing at least ten police officers surrounding Woods — who was allegedly armed with a knife — before five officers opened fire, has prompted widespread outrage and calls for SFPD Chief Suhr’s resignation.

Suhr said the names of five officers who have been placed on administrative leave after fatally shooting Woods on Wednesday will be released this week and that each officer will have “to justify every round they fired” as the investigations into the shooting moves forward. Has he he found his moment? “This is all they could do,” Suhr had previously said of his officers’ shooting of Woods. “I really don’t know how much more you can make it plain to a wanted felon that he should drop the knife.” But now the Chief might be seen as amending that statement, adding that “I’m not saying that Tasers would be effective in every situation, but it would be a lot better if officers had more than just the choice between beanbags and bullets.” Most recently, Suhr dropped a Taser proposal in 2013 that came, as he saw it, with too many restrictions.

The officers apparently attempting to detain Woods in connection with an earlier stabbing opened fire on him as he allegedly brandished a knife, fatally wounding him and drawing outrage from the community. There were in fact so many that they would have put, in his words, “so much pause in the minds of the officers that it would actually put them and the public more at risk.” Public Defender Jeff Adachi remains a staunch opponent of Tasers as weapons for SFPD officers. “The problem is a certain percentage of people — say, with heart conditions — might die.

Suhr said SFPD already possesses 60 crowd control shields which will be deployed to the department’s 10 stations, though the department is still working on a plan to train officers in their use. The department already has some 60 riot shields — the kind of tools that are often used by sheriff’s departments for jailhouse cell extractions and are part of the model used in the United Kingdom to detain suspects with edged weapons, Suhr said.

The Police Commission plans to discuss the overall use of force policy at its meeting this Wednesday, and the Mayor has requested a “thorough review” of policies relating to use of force. “This might require fundamentally revising the Department’s policy through General Orders, and adopting any necessary training or equipment, in addition to what the Chief has already instituted,” Lee said. According to the San Francisco Examiner’s account of the meeting, Suhr said: “We were able to enhance one second of the tweeted video… which shows the officer engaging with Mr. He said the chief is also looking at boosting de-escalation training and talking to the department’s range masters on changing instruction for when and how officers use lethal force. Although KQED’s analysis is based on the same video Suhr used during Friday night’s community meeting, there are potential technical issues with the images and sound that should be kept in mind when viewing it. An analysis by KQED, however, found that “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.” KQED’s analysis also suggests that 19 rounds were fired over the course of 3.5 seconds.

In 2009, when Woods was 19, a San Francisco Superior Court judge added him and five other men to one of the city’s civil gang injunctions targeting a Hunters Point criminal street gang known as the Oakdale Mob. At a vigil on Thursday, Gwen, Woods’ mother was accompanied by family members and said her son “wasn’t that monster that you’re going to hear on the news.” © Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. The biggest criticism of Suhr’s stun-gun plan was that police should be better trained in dealing with those suffering from a psychiatric or drug-induced crisis, and not be given more tools with the intent to harm.

Many at community meetings also invoked the death of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by then-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle when the officer said he accidentally grabbed his firearm instead of his stun gun. They too deserve more alternates to lethal force in order to best de-escalate conflict.” Police Commission President Suzy Loftus said the commission will be discussing the Police Department’s use-of-force policy at the next meeting Wednesday night and that debate probably will include stun guns. So there are a number of changed circumstances.” Three of the five officers involved in Woods’ shooting had undergone crisis-intervention training, Suhr noted.

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