Five days after the fatal shooting of a stabbing suspect by five San Francisco Police Department officers was caught on video, SF Mayor Ed Lee has released a statement on the death that says the footage of the slaying "raised a number of questions."
As previously reported, at a news conference Monday SFPD Chief Greg Suhr said that last week's police confrontation with Mario Woods "could have ended differently if we had Tasers," and says that he'll revive his tabled-since-2013 proposal for the department to add those weapons to their arsenal.
In a statement sent to media by the Mayor's office at 2:41 p.m. Monday, there was no mention of Tasers — but according to Lee, "I have directed Chief Suhr to take specific, immediate action to ensure they have more options to resolve situations with the minimum use of force."
According to Lee's statement, "Since last week, the Chief is equipping officers with protective shields, instituting significant changes to instruction for when and how officers use their firearms, and increasing mandatory, recurring training on de-escalation skills."
It's worth noting that, according to the Ex, "three of the officers on scene at the Woods shooting were trained in Crisis Intervention Training...which means they have knowledge of de-escalation techniques."
Regarding the shield option, SFPD already has 60 protective shields in their possession, six of which will be distributed to each of their stations.
“We don’t want to put out any tool without any training,” Suhr told the Ex. “That’s what we’re doing right now.”
The Chron reports that at a Monday night meeting of the NAACP, the Taser and shield plan was derided as “too simplistic.”
“You don’t need a shield, you need sense,” chapter President Amos Brown said. “Not just Tasers, you need trust. And this community does not trust the police.”
That lack of trust is evident in the rising controversy around what's depicted in the video of the shooting. Though SFPD released the following photos claiming to show Woods reaching toward officers with a knife:
KQED asserts that "the videos show that shots were fired prior to Woods raising his arm." Here's their analysis:
The mayor seems similarly troubled by the videos of the shooting. In his statement, Lee says that "after the incident that resulted in the death of Mr. Mario Woods, I saw the video. I found it very upsetting, as many did, and it raised a number of questions."
"We owe all San Francisco, communities of color, and the Woods family, a full and transparent investigation without delay."
At Monday's news conference, Suhr said that the names of five officers who shot Woods will be released this week and that, according to Bay City News, "each officer will have 'to justify every round they fired'; as the investigations into the shooting moves forward.
Here's Lee's full statement:
As I said last week, after the incident that resulted in the death of Mr. Mario Woods, I saw the video. I found it very upsetting, as many did, and it raised a number of questions.
We owe all San Francisco, communities of color, and the Woods family, a full and transparent investigation without delay, as I said on Thursday.
We also need to reassure the people of San Francisco that lethal force is always the last resort. The men and women of our police department dedicate their lives to protecting people and building trust with the community. They too deserve more alternatives to lethal force in order to best de-escalate conflict.
I have met with community leaders, members of the Board and my staff about this shooting. There are three investigations underway, and no conclusions have yet been reached.
That said, I have directed Chief Suhr to take specific, immediate action to ensure they have more options to resolve situations with the minimum use of force.
And we’re moving fast. Since last week, the Chief is already equipping officers with protective shields, instituting significant changes to instruction for when and how officers use their firearms, and increasing mandatory, recurring training on de-escalation skills. Our Police Department will have at least as much training in de-escalation as we do in use of force.
Immediately after this shooting, the Department opted in to a national effort called: Re-Engineering Training on Police Use of Force.
I have also directed the Police Commission to do a thorough review of all existing policies regarding use of force to make it perfectly clear that the Department’s policy is that using lethal force is the last resort. 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. This discussion will begin at the Police Commission meeting within two days.
This country has seen far too many incidents where conflicts between police and young men of color result in the death of a young person. In San Francisco, we’re not this kind of City. That’s not our values.
So let me say again very clearly, as I’ve said before, Black Lives Matter.
As Mayor, I commit that we will take all necessary steps to prevent these kinds of incidents when possible to ensure public safety, protect the lives of our young people, and maintain officer safety.”