The fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Mario Woods in Bayview on Wednesday, which was partially caught on video, has sparked protest and outrage this week from those in the community who believe the officer's use of deadly force was not only unjustified, but essentially murder. On Friday night, tensions reached a boiling point during a town hall meeting in which community members shouted down SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, who attempted to explain the series of events that led to the shooting.
The Chron reports that about a hundred people packed into a room at the City College of San Francisco to attend the meeting, organized by Suhr, who promised when he took office in 2011 that he would speak to the community after every officer-involved shooting. The meeting lasted over three hours, and was punctuated by a call for Suhr's resignation by Adriana Camarena, a member of the Justice for Alex Nieto Committee. "You get up here (at these meetings) and you tell the same version of events," Camarena said. "You tell a narrative that someone poses a threat. It's the narrative you have to defend in court, but it's a lie. So are you here to resign?"
Asale-Haqueenyah Chandler, a Bayview resident whose son was killed along with three others in Hayes Valley earlier this year, said during the meeting, "You think we're actually stupid." Another woman asked Suhr, "If it were your father, or your brother, or your son that had a knife, would you shoot him down like a pig?"
ABC 7 reports a man shouted, "Ain't no serve and protect! It's harass and kill. This is murder!" Another man said, "There's no reason to shoot somebody 16 times... and he ain't got nothing but a knife. Shoot him in the leg!" According to CBS SF, Black Panther and activist Elaine Brown was also present at the meeting, and said, "We have got to seize control of our own destiny. Do not keep begging these pigs for your own future. You're going to have to seize the future."
Suhr said Friday that his officers had no choice but to use their guns. He told the crowd that Woods had extended his arm while holding a kitchen knife with a six-inch blade, and moved toward an officer during the incident on Wednesday. Even though he defended the actions of the officer, Suhr told ABC 7 that he understood the anger, saying, "Maybe we need other tools in our toolbox that are short of deadly force. We need to look at all of this because this... this... I don't ever want this to happen again."
The Examiner reports that Woods’ cousin Lateefah Barnes was present, and burst into tears throughout the course of the meeting. The families of Alex Nieto and Oscar Grant, two other men shot and killed by police, were also present.