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Friday, December 11, 2015

Attorney: New Mario Woods Video Contradicts Police, City Narrative; Lawsuit Filed

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 2:03 PM

click to enlarge Gwendolyn Woods, Mario Woods's mother, is comforted by civil rights attorney John Burris, who filed a lawsuit on Friday, - CONNOR HUNT/SF EXAMINER
  • Connor Hunt/SF Examiner
  • Gwendolyn Woods, Mario Woods's mother, is comforted by civil rights attorney John Burris, who filed a lawsuit on Friday,

Retained by the family of Mario Woods, the 26-year old black man shot to death by San Francisco police last week, prominent civil rights attorney John Burris has filed a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco and the San Francisco police department.

At a press conference on Friday at City College's southeast campus in Woods' home neighborhood, Bayview, Burris also showed a third video of Woods' fatal encounter with at least ten police officers on Dec. 2. In this video, Burris claims, it's clear that police officers first approached Woods, whose arms are not raised. (No knife can be easily seen in the video, either.) 

This renders the city's narrative "bogus," said Burris, who also released photos from Woods' post-mortem examination that show bullet wounds to his back, side, and the back of his head.

WARNING: graphic content follows.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that Woods' civil rights were violated when he was shot over 20 times after police, believing him to match the description of a suspect in an alleged stabbing, failed to subdue him with less-lethal beanbag rounds and with pepper spray.

Woods was shot after approaching police while still armed with the kitchen knife used in the earlier stabbing. The stabbing victim has not been publicly identified or named. 

Police have promised an investigation into Woods's death, but police Chief Greg Suhr has already publicly said the officers, approached by Woods who was carrying the knife in a raised hand, acted lawfully. 

Video of Woods' death, which two city supervisors have now compared to a firing squad, was posted to Instagram and to Facebook shortly after the Dec. 2 incident and has sparked a week of outrage, protests, and calls from African American community leaders for Suhr to resign.

Below is the third video from a different angle, obtained by Burris's office from a "confidential source."

Compare that to earlier video analyzed by KQED.

When lined up with audio and slowed down frame by frame, according to DeWitt Lacy, an attorney for Burris's office, "it's clear" that the first shot was fired when Woods still had his hands down.

Burris is also using the wounds to Woods's body as further proof of malicious intent. At the press conference, as Woods's mother, Gwendolyn, covered her ears and turned away, Burris's team released photos from Woods's post-mortem examination.

click to enlarge Photos show bullet wounds in Mario Woods's back and in the back of his head. - CONNOR HUNT/SF EXAMINER
  • Connor Hunt/SF Examiner
  • Photos show bullet wounds in Mario Woods's back and in the back of his head.

"Any sensible person," Burris said, "would be horrified" by what transpired. "This was an execution squad."

In a later interview, Burris noted that the knife cannot be seen in Woods's hands, and that Suhr's quick defense of his officers raises serious questions about the "integrity" of a further SFPD investigation.

Community members, some of whom attended Wednesday's Police Commission meeting in which Suhr was called on to resign, vowed to not let this issue rest anytime soon.

"This is not going to go away," said Shawn Richard, a Bayview activist who addressed a crowd of hundreds at a vigil for Woods last week. 
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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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