The family of Luis Gongora, the homeless man shot and killed by SFPD in April of this year, is preparing to file a civil suit against the city. KRON4 reports that civil rights attorney John Burris is representing Gongora's family, and Burris and the family intend to hold a press conference at City Hall today to announce the forthcoming legal action.
“In less than 30 seconds the involved SFPD officers violated their training and common sense by provoking a needless confrontation and ignoring the alternatives to deescalate the situation," writes Burris in a press release announcing the filing of a Claim, the first step in a civil suit, against the city. "Tragically, as a result of their recklessness, Mr. Góngora lost his life."
Police say that on April 7 officers went to a homeless encampment on Shotwell Street near 19th after being alerted by the Homeless Outreach Team that there was a person in the area wife a knife. Upon arrival, police allege Gongora waved a kitchen knife around and charged them — despite repeated verbal demands that he drop the weapon.
This version of events has been disputed by at least eight witnesses, all of who say Gongora, 45, posed no threat to officers and did not charge. Partial video of the shooting emerged showing officers firing on Gongora within 30 seconds of exciting their squad cars.
"[SFPD] officers fired a total of 7 bullets and at least 4 shotgun propelled bean bags at Mr. Góngora," writes Burris. "Many of the gun shots and bean bag rounds struck Mr. Góngora on his right flank indicating Góngora was not standing erect but was either falling down or lying prone when the Officers used deadly force against him. Witness accounts also suggest Mr. Góngora no longer possessed the knife after the first bean bag round struck him in his rear flank."
This case sparked a group of protesters, dubbed the Frisco Five, to stage a 17-day hunger strike calling for the firing of then SFPD Chief Greg Suhr. Shur, of course, was later forced to resign by Mayor Ed Lee following the shooting death of an apparently unarmed black woman in the Bayview.