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Monday, February 8, 2016

Mayor Ed Lee: Mario Woods Shooting Was "Horrifying" "Firing Squad"

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge I swear, I did not like what I saw. - SF EXAMINER/MIKE KOOZMIN
  • SF Examiner/Mike Koozmin
  • I swear, I did not like what I saw.

Mayor Ed Lee has received heat for the way his office handled the Dec. 2 shooting death of Mario Woods — from both the Black Lives Matter and Police Lives Matter sets.

It took Lee until Dec. 7, five days later, to issue a statement — at which point the vide of Woods being shot killed at least 20 times by five SFPD officers had circulated worldwide — that included the phrase "Black Lives Matter" and seemed to indicate that what happened to Woods was not all right.

That set off the city's easily-upset police union, the Police Officers Association, but it also annoyed sympathizers with Mario Woods's cause, for Lee appearing to let off police Chief Greg Suhr easy. (Suhr initially asserted that police seemed to have acted lawfully and within protocol.)

But now Lee appears to be throwing his lot in with the very Mario Woods protesters who have been hounding him at every public event for almost two months.

In an interview with the Sun Reporter, a longstanding black newspaper with offices in the Bayview, Lee referred to Woods's death as a "firing squad."

You will recall that Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the Bayview, received a whole ream of shit for calling the officers who shot Woods — the suspect in an earlier stabbing who was reportedly acting erratically before police encountered him, and failed to subdue him with pepper spray and beanbag rounds — an "ethnically diverse firing squad."

Lee, however, doubles down on that. In an interview with the Sun-Reporter's Gail Berkley, Lee calls the shooting "horrifying."

"It was horrifying; it was a firing squad," the newspaper quotes the mayor as saying. "That's not the way we stop people."

Lee and the police department have since opened up the SFPD to a federal review. Meanwhile, three other investigations into the shooting have yet to present results. 

We can't find any website for the Sun-Reporter, which has had a longstanding presence as the first black newspaper west of the Mississippi. It was founded by the late Dr. Carlton P. Goodlett, the civil rights leader for whom the block of Polk Street where City Hall (at 1 Dr. Carlton P. Goodlett Place) is located. 

But a PDF copy of the interview follows below.

Sun Reporter, interview with Mayor Ed Lee

Lee's comments are sure to raise even more hackles at the POA. We followed up with Lee's press secretary, Christine Falvey, to make sure that the comments were accurate, but we have not heard back.

We'll update this post if we hear more — but in the meantime, this may mollify at least some of the activists who have made it their mission to remind the mayor at every turn that they're not satisfied with the Woods situation. 

UPDATE: According to mayoral spokesman Francis Tsang, Lee stands by the comments. 

"Mayor Lee was expressing his solidarity with the many who were alarmed by the video, how he could understand how people in the community would perceive it as akin to a firing squad," Tsang wrote via e-mail. "That's why he has called for, and fully supports, independent investigations into the death of Mario Woods, including from the US Department of Justice."

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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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