According to the San Francisco Police Department, a man who was fatally shot by an SFPD sergeant Thursday afternoon had wrested a gun away from another cop, and was pointing it at the fallen officer.
In a statement sent to media Thursday afternoon, SFPD spokesperson Sergeant Michael Andraychak says that a worker at a construction site at 8th Street between Market and Mission Streets (according to Hoodline, at Trinity Towers) "saw a man throwing glass bottles."
"The construction worker approached the man and asked him to stop throwing bottles as he was concerned that the broken glass would damage the tires of construction vehicles," Andraychak writes.
As the confrontation escalated, the construction worked spied an SFPD patrol car headed down 8th with two "veteran sergeants" from Tenderloin Station inside. After the worker flagged down the cops, they attempted to take the alleged bottle-thrower into custody.
As the first sergeant went to handcuff the suspect, the suspect violently resisted and took the sergeant to the ground. The sergeant, with the suspect on top of him, could feel the suspect attempting to take his gun. As the other sergeant was attempting to pull the suspect off his partner, he heard his partner calling out, “He’s getting my gun.”
Then, as the supine sergeant was looking down the barrel of his own gun, he called out, “He’s got my gun - shoot him!”
Hearing this, the other sergeant, fearing his partner’s life was in danger, drew and discharged his Department issued handgun, striking the suspect. The suspect fell to the ground along with the supine sergeant’s Department issued handgun, which the suspect had been holding.
Though they police officers called for an ambulance and "started first aid," the man died at the scene, Andraychak writes. He has since been identified by the San Francisco Medical Examiner as 27-year-old Herbert Benitez of San Francisco. According to a statement from ME's office spokesperson Christopher Wirowek, Benitez 's "death was mannered a Homicide and the cause of death was determined to be gunshot wounds of the torso. The next of kin have been notified, and the final report is pending completion at this time."
SFPD Chief Greg Suhr said at a press conference Thursday that it's believed that two shots were fired by the sergeant, as two casings were found on the ground at the scene. Here's audio of the press event, via KQED:
A witness who spoke with the Chron confirms SFPD's account of the shooting, as "The suspect 'got on top of the sergeant and started whipping his ass,' the man said. Asked if the man had gone for the officer’s gun, the witness nodded affirmatively."
Andraychak writes that both sergeants "sustained injuries during the physical confrontation with the suspect," one to his face and the other to his knee. Both were transported to the hospital, and are in stable condition.
According to ABC7, this is the fifth officer-involved shooting in San Francisco this year. In the hours following the incident, a small group of protesters from Oakland-based Stop Mass Incarceration gathered on Market to demonstrate against the shooting.
Before they head to NYC families protesting police brutality on Market Street in SF after OIS today pic.twitter.com/zexda52qmQ— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) October 16, 2015
"The police are coming up against these people that they don't have the training for," one told ABC7.
“It’s gotten out of hand...They shoot people knowing they‘re going to get away with it,“ another told the Chron.
Andraychak writes that SFPD has scheduled a press conference and community meeting for Monday, October 19 at noon, in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in Room #415.
In the meantime, officers with SFPD's Internal Affairs Unit, the SFPD Homicide Detail, the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, and the Office of Citizens’ Complaints will be investigating the shooting, and anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact homicide at (415) 553-1145, SFPD's Anonymous Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or to text a tip to TIP411 with "SFPD" at the beginning of the message.
Previously: SFPD Officer Shoots, Kills One In Mid-Market