Around 11:30 a.m. Friday, SFPD officers responded to call that a man — who would later be identified as Vietnam War veteran James Craft — was brandishing a metal pipe near 18th and San Carlos streets. After a lengthy standoff, SFPD managed to push the suspect against a wall to detain him.
Yesterday late-morning and well into the evening, the Mission District grew into an unsettling scene as dozens of SFPD officers descended near the popular Linea Cafe to contend with a reportedly distressed war veteran.
The stand-off appears to be resolved. Dr. Courtney Thomas of SFDPH told the protesters that the Vietnam vet is going to the hospital with him — after more that 8 hours of standing off with police. The protesters cheered. pic.twitter.com/AcR7xUISv9— Julian Mark (@badjujusf) July 25, 2020
According to Mission Local, the entire episode transpired and dissolved right outside Craft's apartment of 12 years; where his screams ricocheted off the outer walls of his domicile. (SFist was on the scene toward the tail end of the stalemate.)
For hours, SFPD officials tried (to no avail) peacefully disarming the man. Per the local news outlet, on-site officers used "active listening" — which, per SFPD's Behavioral Science Unit, has no description of what that entails nor how officers are trained in the psychotherapeutic technique — and other non-violent techniques to unsuccessfully diffuse the situation.
Though, even from the start of the bout, one officer was allegedly seen with a "less-lethal" beanbag gun.
“They’re trying to make him tired — they’re trying to bring him food,” one bystander said to Mission Local's on-site reporters. “They’re talking to him about the Giants. They’re trying to talk to him.”
Craft is described by the manager of the property, Arnel Garay, where he resides at as a well-mannered man in his 60s who "pays his rent on time" and, for the most part, "keeps to himself." It's noted that Craft usually carries around a wooden table leg “to protect himself”; it's possible the metal rod he had procured was used for a similar reason.
“He doesn’t bother anybody,” Garay said, noting in her conversation with Mission Local the issue at hand might not only be related to his carrying of that object. “I don’t understand why they have a problem with the stick... he’d probably just go back to his room [if the police left the scene].”
At one point, there was an estimated 54 police officers and two negotiators on the scene.
A hallmark symptom of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is having a heightened level of “all-consuming" anxiety that can lead a person experiencing the mental health disease to avoid certain “triggering and traumatic” places, engage in self-isolation, and make them feel a need to constantly protect themselves from the outside world; episodes of irritability, angry outbursts, and aggressive behavior are also common with those suffering from PTSD.
Protestors now chanting: let him go. pic.twitter.com/2ZSEJgIMqY— Capp Street Crap (@cappstreetcrap) July 25, 2020
The entire ordeal was live-tweeted, leaving a trail of on-scene videos that show Craft was not in an ideal mental state; it was clear the man was experiencing a lapse in mental health. And to that point: the 100-plus protesters who gathered toward the evening hours of the standoff turned silent at one point in a conscious effort to not add to Craft's distress.
Protestors have gone silent so not to distress the veteran any further pic.twitter.com/uPX3dlQ5Xh— Mission Local (@MLNow) July 25, 2020
Alas, it wasn't until 7:30 p.m. that Dr. Courtney Thomas of the San Francisco Department of Public Health arrived on the scene — who was met with applause from protesters.
It's unclear if any member for the SFPD's Crisis Intervention Team was present or not beforehand.
After what seems like 4-5 hours, it’s all over now. He was pushed against the building by a swarm of officers and has been detained pic.twitter.com/94yusuGxu8— Trisha Suri (@trishysuri) July 25, 2020
Mission Local reported that the scene broke up at around 7:35 p.m. after police officers used "two six-foot metal poles" to push Craft against a wall, when officers then rushed in and disarmed Craft, according to the property manager. (The fact that "metal poles" were used to corral Craft because of his prior wielding of a like-material object is a cruel irony.)
According to a neighbor of Craft's, an individual who was watching the scene unfold from his balcony, said that Craft was "alright" after being detained and appeared to be taken to receive medical attention.
We're keeping a keen eye on this story, and we'll report updates as they become known.
Image: Courtesy of Twitter