The five SFPD officers who fired on and killed Mario Woods, a 26-year-old black man in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood, have been cleared to return to work by a Police Department panel and Police Chief Greg Suhr.
The Chronicle reports that while three investigations into Woods' death continue — one internal, a second from from the DA's office, and a third from the Office of Citizens Complaints (with a fourth from the Department of Justice requested by the Board of Supervisors and the SFPD) — those officers have been placed on desk duty. The SFPD management panel, a seven-member body, recommended that the officers return to work, to which Suhr says he “concurred and placed them on administrative duties.”
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Police Officers Association is calling on its membership to support the officers at tonight's commission meeting. Officer Shante Williams, who will attend, says that “People are screaming justice for Mario Woods, but you have to understand that less than 30 minutes before this, he stabbed a man unprovoked,” Ironically presuming Wood's guilt but his colleagues innocence, Williams added that some are “pretty much passing judgment on us as guilty until proven innocent,”
Williams is black, and maintains that race had nothing to do with the move to fire on Woods. Of the five officers who shot Woods, one is white, one is Asian American, one is Latino, and one is black and Filipino American. “We don’t go out looking for color — we go out looking for criminal activity,” Williams said. “We are not out there racial profiling.”
The Examiner reports that on January 16, all active Police Officers Association members received a letter requesting they attend tonight's meeting. The entreaty hopes to gather a “a strong showing” Wednesday night to ensure the commission remains impartial despite attacks on law enforcement from some politicians and others."
Wrote Union president Martin Halloran, “I am writing to all active POA members to request a show of support by officers at the next police commission meeting. We are asking our members to show support for our brothers and sisters involved in the recent officer involved shootings in the Bayview district.. Our profession is under attack nationally, and especially here in San Francisco.”
Halloran has said of the Wood's killing that “these officers were forced into an impossible situation with an armed suspect who allegedly stabbed an innocent victim less than a half hour earlier. These officers exhausted all forms of less lethal force and were forced, by the suspect, to discharge their firearms.”
The Police Officers Association has also launched a radio ad campaign in which Halloran says — minus the allegedly — "San Francisco trains more officers in cutting edge de-escalation techniques than anyone, but the recent shooting death in the Bayview showed how tragedies still happen. The deceased stabbed a citizen, he ignored all de-escalation efforts, and he refused to drop his knife. Almost all the officers involved in this incident were minorities. We call for a fact-based debate on the future of law enforcement, not a politically driven one."
Earlier this week, the Chron's C.W. Nevius called out Halloran for his earlier incendiary comments about the Woods case, which have only made life harder for Suhr. Halloran wrote in the POA Journal, that local politicians "followed the other sheep blindly down the path of political expediency and made uninformed, ignorant and at times derogatory and inflammatory public statements" about the cops involved.