The mood was somber on Thursday morning at the Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church where friends and family laid Mario Woods to rest at a funeral service, 15 days after he was killed by five San Francisco police officers.
About 100 mourners attended. One friend read a poem. His mother cried and hugged relatives. Community members stood outside trying to listen and taking photos. All were there to say goodbye to the 26-year-old Woods, who was killed on Dec. 2 after police said he wouldn’t put down a knife.
But video taken by a female Muni passenger, now the property of the Woods’ high-profile family attorney, John Burris, seems to contradict that theory.
Burris held a news conference last week announcing a federal lawsuit he had filed against the police department, and five officers, now on leave.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Woods' mother, Gwendolyn, claims police used excessive force and violated Woods’ civil rights.
Police have not commented on the pending litigation, but Police Chief Greg Suhr said that officers were in the Bayview district that day after responding to reports that a man with a knife had stabbed someone. Suhr also said officers tried to use bean bag rounds and pepper spray unsuccessfully before the shots were fired.
Who that stabbing victim was has not been made public.
This week, the San Francisco Police Department announced a change in its gun policy, directly resulting from Woods’ death.
Suhr said pointing a service weapon at someone amounts to a use of force that officers must justify, and document it on paper.