When officers with the San Francisco Police Department shot a homeless man who allegedly refused to drop a kitchen knife last week, officers told members of the community concerned over discrepancies between police and witness statements that all could be discussed at the "town hall" on the shooting. But the timing of said town hall — announced this afternoon — makes it unlikely that many people will be able to attend the discussion.
After every fatal shooting by the police, SFPD holds a town hall meeting for community members to discuss the event. For example, the December meeting regarding the shooting of Mario Woods was on the Friday night two days after he was shot by police.
The meeting for the fatal police shooting of 45-year-old Luis Gongora, whose death on April 7 has been plagued by controversy after numerous witnesses disputed police accounts of the incident, as well as a video that showed how swiftly police shot down the homeless man, will not be in the evening — instead, it will be held tomorrow at noon.
According to a a press release sent by SFPD at 1:08 p.m. Tuesday, the noon town hall meeting will be held "to provide the Mission community with an update," at Union Local Hall located at 3271 18th Street.
An obvious thing to ask here is how many members of the Mission community are employed in such a way that they are free at noon on a weekday? How many others can become free with less than 24 hours notice?
But according to SFPD spokesperson Officer Albie Esparza, town hall meetings regarding officer involved shootings are scheduled to be held "at or around the time of the incident, because that's when the people near or who witnessed [the shooting] are most likely to be able to attend," he said. Since Gongora was shot around 10 a.m., noon was chosen for the town hall.
When I pressed, saying that surely he could see how some folks might assume that it was scheduled at noon to prevent attendance, Esparza pointed out that other daytime police shootings have also led to noon town halls — for example, this early-morning police shooting from 2014.
"I've been a [Public Information Officer] for six years, and I've gone to all of these" Esparza said. "We've always had the meeting near the time of the incident."