Saying that witness statements "call into question" the San Francisco Police Department's account of a fatal police shooting in the Mission District on Thursday, local activist groups say that they will be attending — in force — tonight's town hall meeting on the shooting.
Though the San Francisco Medical Examiner has yet to publicly identify the man shot by police last week during what officials say was a knifepoint bike theft, he was named at a vigil Friday as 21-year-old Almicar Perez-Lopez.
According to the SFPD, at 9:45 p.m. Thursday police received reports of "a Hispanic male with a knife, chasing another male" and "attempting to rob the victim of his bicycle" near 24th and Folsom Streets.
Two plainclothes officers patrolling the area arrived on the scene, then, as SFPD Chief Greg Suhr put it Friday, "The officers drew their weapons, demanded for the man to drop his knife, he refused, we have several witnesses that heard this -- two here that we've already spoken to and another six that are being interviewed. At some point in time the officers, as they're only allowed to fire in defense of themselves or others, felt that one of those situations was in play. They fired upon the suspect."
"Witnesses say that they heard between four and six rounds," Suhr said. "We found six casings. So far that appears to be consistent. The suspect was struck, fell to the ground. He did not survive his injuries."
The cyclist was not injured, SFPD said in an emailed statement, "and thanked officers for intervening." At the scene, Suhr said that "In interviewing the victim...He thanked the captain saying you (the police) guys saved my life."
In a report posted to IndyBay Sunday, however, an activist group called the "Anti Police-Terror Project" disputes some of these details, claiming that "the police have stated Amilcar was in the process of stealing a bicycle. This claim is called into question by a number of witness statements. There are witnesses who say Amilcar was responding to the theft of his phone. There are witnesses who state they saw the owner of the bicycle and Amilcar in police custody 10 minutes before his death."
According to their account, "Amilcar, a Guatemalan immigrant, was shot in front of his home, so neighbors are also witnesses."
Witnesses who spoke to Mission Local at the vigil also suggested that there might be more to the case, with Perez-Lopez's roommate saying the knife he was holding “wasn’t that big.”
In a post to the Facebook, writer Adriana Camarena, a Mission resident, also disputed SFPD's account, saying that Perez-Lopez had dropped the knife before he was shot.
Amilcar Perez Lopez was a 21 yr. Guatemalteque construction worker who was killed by SFPD on Thursday evening, 2-26-15. He was killed 15 feet away from the house where he lived. While SFPD contends he had a knife and refused to drop it, a witness contends that he had already dropped it when 5 to 6 shots were fired at him. The police stated that his alleged victim of the alleged bike theft said to the cops thank you for saving my life, but this has been debunked since.
According to attendees at the vigil, “He had been drinking all day and all night" and "you don’t think so clearly when you are like that,” Mission Local reports.
Both officers, who have yet to be identified by SFPD but are reportedly "senior members of the force," are on paid administrative leave during investigations by the SFPD homicide detail, the SF District Attorney's office and SFPD Internal Affairs.
A call to SFPD for comment referred us to the town hall meeting on the shooting, planned for 6 p.m. Monday at Cesar Chavez Elementary School at 825 Shotwell Street.
According to the IndyBay report, "There will also be a strong neighborhood presence at the town hall," but the attendees might not just be from the area, as a Facebook group entitled "Justice 4 AMILCAR PEREZ-LOPEZ, 21, killed by SFPD on 2-26-15" presently has 544 members located across the Bay Area, and beyond. Of those 544 members, over 120 had responded that they would be attending tonight's meeting.