Protesters Demand San Francisco Police Chief's Resignation, Charges Against Officers Who Shot, Killed Mario Woods - NBC Bay Area
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Protesters Demand San Francisco Police Chief's Resignation, Charges Against Officers Who Shot, Killed Mario Woods

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Community members rallied Friday to call for the firing of San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr and to urge the city's District Attorney George Gascon and California Attorney General Kamala Harris to file criminal charges against the officers who fatally shot Mario Woods earlier this month. Christie Smith reports. (Published Friday, Dec. 18, 2015)

    Community members rallied Friday to call for the firing of San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr and to urge the city's District Attorney George Gascon and California Attorney General Kamala Harris to file criminal charges against the officers who fatally shot Mario Woods earlier this month.

    "Suhr, no sir," dozens of protesters chanted Friday on the steps of the Hall of Justice in response to the death of the 26-year-old San Francisco resident.

    Protesters said that the police chief blindly defended the five officers believed to have fired roughly 20 rounds at Woods on Dec. 2.

    Woods' memorial service was held Thursday and was attended by family, friends, civil rights attorneys and invited members of the media at Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church on Third Street, just a few yards away from where he was gunned down.

    The medical examiner's office said Friday that they are still working on the autopsy report and didn't have an estimate of when it would be released.

    Attorney John Burris, who filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city on behalf of Woods' mother, Gwendolyn Woods, said that Woods' body had at least 20 gunshot wounds. Burris said he didn't know how many gunshots were fired or exactly how many bullets caused the wounds.

    At least two of the officers who fired at Woods faced previous allegations of excessive force, according to court documents.

    On Friday, concerned citizens, including San Francisco supervisors John Avalos and David Campos, as well as NAACP-San Francisco president Rev. Amos Brown, said the city's police department needs to change.

    San Francisco resident Suleiman Assad also said that the department's policies and their flawed culture and mindset need rethinking.

    "We're going to fight this to the end. You've been doing this for over 400 years," Assad said, referring to the enslavement of black people.

    Assad said the very concept of police departments were created when slave owners banded together to catch runaway slaves.

    Protesters said, "Chief Suhr came out and lied to this city," used "rogue" tactics and allowed racism to thrive inside his department.

    Suhr has defended the officers' shooting of Woods, saying that Woods raised his arm and a knife in a threatening manner. Burris, however, said video evidence of the incident shows that Woods raised his arm after the first shot was fired.

    Protesters, who held signs reading "Black Lives Matter," "Justice for Mario Woods" and "Fire Chief Suhr," initially planned to march into the Hall of Justice and up to the district attorney's office on the third floor, but instead District Attorney George Gascon came out to speak to the crowd.

    "Know that this will be a fully transparent investigation," Gascon said. "You will know what we conclude, what was the evidence available, what does the law say about the evidence and we will walk you through our conclusion, whatever that conclusion is."

    Gascon added, however, that he has "no idea" what that conclusion will be.

    Campos said he believes the city should consider paying for Woods' funeral costs, while Avalos said the video footage of Woods' death can only be interpreted in one way.

    "How can you do anything else but weep when you see this video?" Avalos said, adding that the Police Department needs to apologize and acknowledge that "something dreadfully wrong happened."

    Additionally, Avalos said, he worries about the investigation.

    "The investigation is always done internally with a foregone conclusion," he said.

    Protesters said that they want Suhr fired and don't want to see him receive pension benefits if he resigns first.

    Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, who was gunned down by BART police at Fruitvale Station in Oakland in 2009, attended the rally and said Suhr deserves to join the ranks of police chiefs who have been forced to resign following recent police killings across the country.

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