On January 4, San Francisco police officers killed a man that pulled out what turned out to be a replica gun while allegedly trespassing on restricted property in front of the Mission Police Station. The man was 32 years old and the shooting occurred just outside the station.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr claimed the man had walked into the parking lot, which was explicitly marked as restricted to the public although the gate is open to allow vehicles to come in and out.
Suhr stated, “It is not uncommon for the public to enter the area, so three officers told the man to leave and got into their patrol car. But the suspect did not leave.” They found this odd and approached him and asked him to leave again. “He went to his waistband, where there was the butt of a gun, and drew a weapon. Two sergeants fired and hit him three times,” Suhr explained.
The gun was later found to be an airsoft or BB gun. The man was transported to San Francisco General Hospital where he died Sunday evening.
The man was not identified, but Suhr said the man had approached some officers earlier that day and asked them about what type of weapons they carry. The officers were unharmed and were granted over a week of administrative leave.
There were several witnesses that saw and heard the incident on Sunday night. That evening, many residents in the neighborhood and passersby gathered at the crime scene. Residents fear that this may lead to either bad relations between the police and community or proliferation of police-involved deaths such as occurred in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.
The man that was killed did not seem to pose harm to the officers. Instead of immediately shooting the man, they could have used numerous alternative strategies and law enforcement techniques. The police these days are taking drastic measures when faced with the slightest challenges. Instead of resorting to violence, officers need to make every effort to avoid using lethal force. This must be used only as an absolute last resort.