Yet another witness, a fellow homeless person who was living at the Shotwell Street encampment on April 7, has come forward to dispute the SFPD's account that says that Luis Gongora lunged at officers with a knife, which led to their fatally shooting him that day. Carlos Guevara tells Mission Local that he knew Luis, often saw him playing soccer on the street as he was earlier that Thursday, and was about twenty feet or more away when the shooting took place.
Guevara's account is interesting though because it describes the events that led up to the shooting. He explains that the Department of Public Health’s Homeless Outreach Team were going tent to tent that morning, telling people they were going to have to move and the camp was being cleared. Upset by this, Gongora apparently took his kitchen knife and was apparently taking his anger out on a nearby tree Mission local confirms that multiple trees in the vicinity show "significant scratches, both old and new" that are consistent with this. There have also been previous suggestions that Gongora was in an altered mental state of some kind.
It was one of the outreach workers, Guevara says, who called the cops to report Gongora for "swinging" a knife around "in a chopping motion." He says Gongora was sitting down on the sidewalk with the knife on the ground when police arrived, and that he had never swung it in the direction of any person.
As we saw in this video, though it occurs off-screen, arriving officers very quickly began shooting at Gongora, and it's impossible to see what may have caused them to switch so quickly from beanbag rounds to bullets.
But Guevara, who now fears reprisals by police, says he witnessed the first officer shooting "rubber bullets," and never saw Gongora lunge.
Other accounts said that Gongora had been on the ground the entire time.
As KQED reports, the actions of the officers are likely to face intense scrutiny, because the 22 seconds between the first shouting command by an officer and the discharge of bullets appears to be a clear violation of existing de-escalation policy. Chief Greg Suhr said at a Town Hall meeting Wednesday, "I’ve been talking time and distance and de-escalation that’s pretty much all I’ve been talking about all of 2016. So there’ll be a lot of questions about tactics on why that didn’t happen."