By Dan Brekke and Alex Emslie
Update 8:27 p.m. Friday, May 20:
The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the woman shot and killed by a city police officer Thursday as Bay Area resident Jessica Williams, 29.
An autopsy has been conducted, but further details of Williams’ cause of death were not released, pending the completion of a final report, according to the office.
Former San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned shortly after Thursday’s shooting. Interim Chief Toney Chaplin said Friday that he would hold a public meeting in the Bayview next week and provide updates on investigations into the shooting. The name of officers involved in the incident have not been released, but Chaplin said their identities would also likely be made public next week, per department protocol.
Original Post, Updated 4:12 p.m. Thursday, May 19:
San Francisco police officers shot and killed a woman they suspected of car theft Thursday morning, the department’s eighth fatal officer-involved shooting since the beginning of 2015.
Officer Albie Esparza told reporters the shooting occurred just before 10 a.m. near the intersection of Elmira Street and Shafter Avenue in the city’s Bayview neighborhood.
Police Chief Greg Suhr confirmed that the shooting victim, whom he described as a 27-year-old female, died after being transported to San Francisco General Hospital.
Suhr said the shooting occurred after a confrontation between the suspect, who was in a car, and two officers who were on patrol in the industrial neighborhood looking for stolen cars. He said investigators had spoken to a single witness who saw the incident from above. The involved officers have not yet given statements.
Suhr said the woman fled from officers when they tried to detain her, driving about 100 feet before colliding with another vehicle.
The unidentified witness, according to Suhr, saw the suspected stolen car “going from forward to reverse,” as officers “were moving about.”
Esparza said officers were attempting to pull the woman from the car as it was moving.
“At some point in this engagement, one officer, a sergeant, fired one shot, striking the suspect,” Suhr said.
Police didn’t immediately know whether the woman was armed when she was shot.
Here’s how the San Francisco Chronicle summarizes the sequence of events that led to the unidentified woman’s death:
Two officers attempted to detain the woman after spotting the stolen car, said Police Chief Greg Suhr. She tried to drive away before the officers could talk to her, but only got 100 feet before crashing into a parked truck. While she was trying to dislodge the vehicle and not complying with police orders, one of the two officers, a Bayview station sergeant, fired one shot, striking her.
There was no immediate indication that she was driving at the officers.
Proposed changes to SFPD use of force policies include a ban on firing at a moving vehicle “unless the operator or occupant poses an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the public or an officer by means other than the vehicle.” It’s one of many proposed changes that have been criticized by the union representing SFPD officers.
San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran declined to comment on the shooting today, saying in a written statement that he will comment after he learns more details about the incident.
The woman who died Thursday was black. The San Francisco Police Department’s seven other fatal shootings since Jan. 1, 2015, include two white, one black and four Latino victims:
- April 7, 2016: Luis Gongora, 45
- Dec. 2, 2015: Mario Woods, 26
- Nov. 11, 2015: Javier Lopez Garcia, 25
- Oct. 14, 2015: Herbert Benitez, 27
- March 17, 2015: Alice Brown, 24
- Feb. 26, 2015: Amilcar Perez Lopez, 21
- Jan. 4, 2015: Matthew Hoffman, 32
An employee at a nearby business said he provided investigators with surveillance video of the incident. He declined to provide an additional copy, saying for now the business prefers to work solely with law enforcement.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said in a written statement that while details are currently scarce, he is “deeply disturbed” by what’s been released so far.
“She was entitled to due process and, above all, she was entitled to her life,” Adachi said, while reiterating his call for the state Attorney General’s Office to launch a civil rights investigation of the Police Department.
Federal authorities with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services are currently conducting a non-binding review of SFPD policies, launched in February and in response to the Dec. 2 fatal shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview.
Suhr said federal authorities were at the scene of Thursday morning’s shooting.
“They were in the neighborhood,” Suhr said of U.S. Department of Justice officials. “They have full access to everything right now.”
SFPD’s latest fatal shooting is fueling speculation that Mayor Ed Lee is considering firing Suhr. He addressed the shooting during an unrelated event this morning, according to the Chronicle.
The Mayor’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
Activists calling for Suhr’s removal plan a rally at City Hall this evening, starting at 5 p.m.