Protesters marched throughout the Mission last night in protest of yesterday's SFPD shooting death of a homeless man currently only identified as "Jose." While officers claim that Jose charged at them with a kitchen knife, and that they fired in self defense, The Guardian, the Chronicle, and NBC Bay Area are all reporting that multiple witnesses contradict police claims and insist that Jose neither charged at officers nor was he holding a weapon when police opened fire. Over one hundred people marched last night to the 19th and Shotwell Street site of the shooting, reports Mission Local, before continuing on to the SFPD Mission Station on Valencia at 17th Street.
"How do you spell brutality?" video shows protesters chanting in front of the station before answering, in unison, "SFPD."
“He didn’t charge at the officers," The Guardian reports one witness, John Visor, as saying. "He was going in circles because he didn’t understand what they said. He had a knife on him but he didn’t have it out."
This account, which directly contradicts the official police narrative, is backed up by another witness, Rosalyn Barnett, who told NBC Bay Area that not only was Jose not charging officers when they opened fire, but in fact he was moving away from them. "They start launching bean bags at him and he started to run away," she explained, adding that it was then that police shot Jose.
A third witness, who saw the shooting from his kitchen window, spoke with the Chronicle and also told a story that stands in sharp contrast to SFPD's version of events. “He didn’t ever charge,” explained the neighbor, who requested to remain anonymous. “It seemed unnecessary. He didn’t move toward them, but you could tell he was mad.”
Jose had reportedly been living in a homeless camp on Shotwell Street, and at least one of his neighbors told The Guardian that Jose grew up in the neighborhood. An eviction apparently forced him from his apartment and onto the street, where he'd lived for an unknown amount of time.
Jose was reported to have died yesterday at SF General around 1:00 p.m.
Yesterday's shooting has echoes of the December shooting death of 26-year-old Mario Woods. In that case, police initially claimed that Woods had moved toward them with a weapon outstretched in a threatening manner, before additional video surfaced casting doubt on that claim. And in what appears to be an added tragic element to yesterday's incident, friends of Jose are saying that he spoke no English and likely didn't understand police commands.
"There are now two investigations underway by the Police Department and the District Attorney," wrote Mayor Ed Lee in a press release Thursday, "and today, I am asking the Office of Citizen Complaints to launch their own independent investigation."
The investigations are unlikely to bring solace to those who feel the police gunned down Jose without cause. Speaking with Jose's friend and witness to yesterday's event, John Visor, a reporter with ABC 7 seemed in a state of disbelief, asking, "You saying it was cold blooded murder?" To which the Visor replied, "Yeah."