An eyewitness video appeared on Instagram Wednesday showing, at least from one angle, how an incident unfolded on the Market Street sidewalk outside the Westfield shopping center Tuesday evening in which a man was shot by SFPD officers.
The SFPD said Wednesday that officers fired on the subject, who was brandishing a knife and reportedly acting erratically, using both non-lethal and lethal rounds, in addition to deploying a Taser. The witness claims he saw no Taser being used.
"Yes, the suspect had a knife but IMO the police did a bad job communicating with each other," writes the witness who posted the video. "The police aggressively approached the suspect with only 2 cops when the rest of the cops weren’t even ready and the suspect was still not charging at the police and no people were near him."
Furthermore, the witness suggests that police fired on the subject "disregarding the safety of civilians on the line of fire inside 835 Market [Street]," the doorway in front of which the shooting took place. Also next door is a Walgreens that was open at the time of the incident.
The shooting took place just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and there were many witnesses on the street at the time. At least one bystander can be seen inside the entryway at 835 Market running for cover when they heard the gunfire.
As KPIX reports, the suspect, identified only as a 26-year-old male, remains in critical condition following the shooting. And the SFPD has continued to stress that while witnesses may have thought they saw and heard gunfire, some of the rounds were of the "less-lethal" variety, "including both the 12 gauge and 40 mm extended range impact weapons (ERIWs)." As reported yesterday, at least one officer fired his service revolver and struck the suspect.
In the video, you can see the suspect hopping sideways with an object — presumably the knife — in his hand as officers aimed weapons at him. [Be warned that the video contains violence that may be disturbing.]
The suspect can be seen attempting to get back up off the ground at the 41-second mark, still holding the knife, after which two gun pops can be heard.
Afterward, as about 10 or 12 cops surround the suspect, one officer can be heard saying, "Drop the knife so we can help you!” and “We’re trying to help you.”
San Francisco police have repeatedly faced criticism in recent years for not employing de-escalation tactics before firing lethal rounds in situations like this one. The incident is likely to spur further criticism, and it is being investigated now by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Police Accountability, the SFPD's Investigative Services Division, and the SFPD’s Internal Affairs Division.
On October 10, SFPD officers shot and killed 21-year-old carjacking suspect Cesar Vargas. Vargas was armed with only a small knife, but was acting erratically and body-cam footage released by the police appears to show Vargas charging on officers before he was shot. The case remains under investigation.