State Attorney General Rob Bonta is investigating an alleged police shooting of two men last Thursday in Mariposa Park, and new reporting indicates that SFPD may have shot both the assailant and the victim in the incident.
It should not be a surprise anymore that the California Attorney General's Office opens investigations into police shootings; a new-ish 2020 law called A.B. 1506 requires the state's Department of Justice to “investigate all incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian in the state.” But since that law is now being applied to last Thursday night’s police shooting that left two men dead in Mission Bay, that sure seems to indicate one of the individuals shot was unarmed.
The Chronicle has some new reporting on that shooting saying explicitly that “San Francisco police who responded to a reported assault by a knife-wielding man shot the alleged assailant as well as the victim, who was unarmed,” according to the Chronicle's “two law enforcement sources.” The Chron adds that “it’s not yet clear whether the alleged victim died from a gunshot wound,” but “the alleged assailant was definitively killed by police gunfire.”
State Attorney General Ron Bonta’s announcement of a state investigation prudently gives very little detail, saying that the state’s Department of Justice “is investigating and will independently review an officer-involved shooting (OIS) that occurred in San Francisco on Thursday.” The statement adds that “Given uncertainty regarding the OIS, the California Department of Justice is treating the incident as an AB 1506 qualifying event.”
The Chronicle’s report does add the detail that the two men killed were 57-year-old Michael MacFhionghain and 49-year-old Rafael Mendoza. Previous statements had left it unclear whether either or both men were shot by police, and we technically still don't know this for sure.
SFPD has announced there will be a town hall meeting regarding the shootings within ten days of the incident, though the date and time have not yet been announced. And we should note that SFPD could be validated when it’s all said and done, and maybe the officers were perfectly justified in their actions.
But we should also note that Newsom-appointed Bonta is up for reelection this year. He has his primary on June 7, and faces the general election in November. Police seem to like him, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association gave $250,000 to a pro-Bonta PAC last week. We’ll see if that support lasts when Bonta keeps investigating police shootings.
Image: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 15: California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a news conference outside of an Amazon distribution facility on November 15, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Bonta announced that Amazon Inc. will have to pay a $500,000 fine after the company failed to adequately notify workers and officials about coronavirus cases at its facilities pursuant to California Assembly Bill 865. The bill also requires companies to share COVID-19 safety plans, benefits and protections with employees. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)