San Francisco Public Defender, Activists Demand Charging Decisions in 2015 Police Shooting of Guatemalan Man - NBC Bay Area
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San Francisco Public Defender, Activists Demand Charging Decisions in 2015 Police Shooting of Guatemalan Man

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    A rally Thursday on the steps of San Francisco's Hall of Justice called on the district attorney to make a decision about whether to charge officers in the 2015 police shooting of a Guatemalan man. Christie Smith reports. (Published Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017)

    Public Defender Jeff Adachi joined a Thursday rally on the steps of San Francisco's Hall of Justice and called on District Attorney George Gascon to make a decision about whether to charge officers in the 2015 police shooting of a Guatemalan man.

    While focused Amilcar Perez Lopez's shooting in the Mission District on Feb. 26, 2015, the rally brought together family members and supporters of a number of recent police shooting victims, including Mario Woods and Luis Gongora.

    Advocates are conducting an ongoing campaign urging Gascon to issue charging decisions in those shootings as well.

    "Gascon, do your job!" activists chanted Thursday.

    According to police data presented Wednesday at the Police Commission, there are currently 15 open investigations into officer-involved shootings, three of which date back to 2014. Twelve of those cases are waiting for a charging decision letter from the district attorney's office before the homicide investigation can be closed and an internal affairs investigation undertaken.

    "There is no accountability," Adachi said. "We've been promised accountability by the district attorney, by the Police Commission, by the Office of Citizen Complaints, and so many others, yet we have failed to see that materialize."

    He also questioned what the investigation branch of Gascon's office is doing. 

    Activists on Thursday said it has been 679 days since the shooting of Perez Lopez, who was killed around 9:45 p.m. by plainclothes officers responding to a 911 report of a man running with a knife down Folsom Street toward 25th Street, chasing another man.

    In the months since, activists have raised questions about whether Perez Lopez understood police commands, given the language barrier, whether the plainclothes officers identified themselves and whether he may have already dropped the knife or even been trying to flee when he was shot.

    Gascon has said the pace of the investigation was slowed by the fact that some witnesses came forward a year or more after the shooting, opening up new lines of inquiry and prompting investigators to seek input from expert witnesses.

    The district attorney's office is still waiting for the results of some outside reports, but hopes to have a decision soon, a spokesman said Thursday.

    "We’re not happy when there is a delay in any investigation, especially an officer-involved shooting," Alex Bastian said. "We have to make sure it's done correctly, not just expediently."

    NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith contributed to this report.

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