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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Report: Six Witnesses Contradict Police Account of Homeless Man’s SFPD Killing

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 11:31 AM

click to enlarge How did Luis Gongora die? - JESSICA CHRISTIAN/SF EXAMINER
  • Jessica Christian/SF Examiner
  • How did Luis Gongora die?
More witnesses interviewed by The Guardian are contradicting the Police Department’s account of how a homeless man came to be shot to death by police officers last week.

So far, six people who claim to have seen the shooting have told The Guardian that Luis Gongora was not behaving in an aggressive manner while holding a kitchen knife when police arrived at a tent encampment near 19th and Shotwell streets in the Mission District. Officers reportedly had been called by city homeless outreach workers who said someone was waving around a large kitchen knife.

In The Guardian’s latest story, Christine Pepin said she was walking by the scene of the killing and saw Gongora sitting on the sidewalk with his back against a wall. Pepin can be seen in surveillance video obtained by the Chronicle entering the frame in the bottom right, stopping momentarily while watching the incident unfold, then fleeing as shots are fired.

“He was sitting on the ground, his back against the wall,” Pepin told The Guardian. “He seemed to be holding something in his left hand, but I didn’t see a knife. He didn’t seem aggressive. He seemed kind of lost and confused. His head was against the building, sitting down, and his knees were bent, like in a relaxed manner.”

Police have said they are trying to avoid killing people armed with knives, particularly those in mental distress. This comes in the wake of the Dec. 2 police shooting death of Mario Woods, a 26-year-old black man killed in the Bayview who was also reportedly holding a kitchen knife.  

Police announced last week that four witnesses corroborated their version of events, while disclosing that they were releasing only those accounts out of more than 10 witnesses who provided statements.

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