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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Homeless Man With Kitchen Knife Shot by SFPD, Dies

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 2:20 PM

  • Michael Barba/SF Examiner
A man living in one of the Mission District's tent encampments near 19th and Shotwell streets was shot and killed by police after allegedly brandishing a large kitchen knife at homeless outreach workers, according to police.

After allegedly threatening the public health workers at around 10 a.m., the man — so far identified by witnesses nearby only as "Jose" — supposedly waved the same "foot-long knife" at responding police officers, who fired less-lethal beanbag rounds at him before resorting to their handguns, firing seven shots, police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters.

The man died at San Francisco General Hospital. Meanwhile, witnesses to the encounter — other homeless people living in nearby tents — disputed the police account, according to the Chronicle. Some said the man did not have the knife on him when he was killed, while others say the man spoke only Spanish and did not understand police commands.

The death comes at a time when police have pledged to do whatever it takes not to kill people armed with knives, particularly people in a distressed mental state. Recall Mario Woods, the 26-year-old black man shot and killed by police in the Bayview on Dec. 2, was armed with a kitchen knife. 
Suhr has pledged to reform the SFPD's use-of-force policy to best create "time and space" between police and suspects armed with edged weapons. Police were supposed to be equipped with batons and shields in order to engage knife-wielding suspects without using firearms.

It was not immediately clear if those tools were employed — it's also not clear why beanbags, which were also fired at Mario Woods, failed again to subdue a suspect.

Interviewed by the Chron, a man identifying himself as John Visor said that he was ten feet away from the encounter. "Jose" did not charge police, he said, and seemed to be running around in circles, confused.

"They just shot him," he told the newspaper. "They just shot him."

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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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