Within 30 seconds of their arrival at Shotwell Street near 19th Street on April 7, SFPD officers had shot 45-year-old Luis Gongora multiple times. He later died at SF General Hospital. As many as eight witnesses quickly disputed police claims that Gongora, who was homeless, lunged at the officers with a knife. While video doesn't clearly show the encounter, it confirms the rapidity with which it played out.
The two officers named in the shooting more than a week later were Sgt. Nate Steger and Officer Michael Mellone. The Examiner has learned that Steger, a 17-year department veteran, was later placed on a panel whose goal is to reform police policy — particularly as it pertains to use of force.
That group is the Professional Standards and Principled Policing Bureau, which was headed by current interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin before he replaced Chief Suhr in the wake of the police shooting of Jessica Williams. The bureau's job is to work with the Department of Justice, who are investigating the department, to turn its recommendations into new policy.
“It seems very strange that they would put him in that position," Public Defender Jeff Adachi told the Examiner.“It appears that he’s been put in a position of preventing people from doing exactly what he did. I would wonder what kinds of training he has received.”