San Francisco

Mario Woods' Mother ‘So Mad' One Year After His Death

The mother of Mario Woods, who was fatally shot by San Francisco police, said she is haunted by memories a year after his death.

“I am so mad,” Gwendolyn Woods said on Friday. “I am so mad [at] what they did to him.”

Friday marks the one-year-anniversary of the 26-year-old’s shooting death. It set off protests and calls for reform in the police department, and family members and supporters gathered in San Francisco to celebrate the life of Mario Woods.

Gwendolyn Woods said the past two weeks have been particularly difficult for her.

“My dad used to say, ‘You have to have hope,’ but mine is a little bit fleeting,” said Woods, who admitted that she put off grieving to keep up the fight for justice.

Woods, 26, was fatally shot on Dec. 2, 2015 in the city's Bayview District by five police officers, after a man reported being stabbed earlier that afternoon in the 6600 block of Third Street.

When officers surrounded him, he refused to drop a knife he was holding and, after using multiple non-lethal weapons on Woods, officers fired at him when he appeared to walk toward the officers, police said.

The shooting generated public outrage after it was captured on video by several bystanders and was widely circulated on social media.

On Friday, more than a dozen protesters gathered inside the entrance to the office of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. They tried to press Gascon to file charges against the officers involved.

“We want justice,” said Cassandra Grant, with the Mario Woods Coalition. “We’ve been waiting a year. It’s been far too long.”

A group that calls itself Mothers on the March has followed through on a promise made more than a month ago to demonstrate at the office every Friday at noon until Gascon agrees to meet with them to discuss charging officers involved in fatal shootings with murder.

The group is named in honor of the mothers of those who have died during recent officer-involved shootings in San Francisco. The parents of Alex Nieto, who was fatally shot by police in 2014, Elvira and Refugio Nieto, have been actively participating in the demonstrations.

"We're here to support these mothers but this historic day on the anniversary of Mario could not go unaddressed. So were in solidarity with the mothers on the march to tell them that they're not alone," Minister Christopher Muhammad said during the demonstration.

Woods' fatal shooting is one of a handful of fatal shootings that have occurred in recent years. The fatal shootings have put pressure on the police department to make changes, including the resignation of former police Chief Greg Suhr and the appointment of interim police Chief Toney Chaplin.

"Chief Chaplin is not someone who we can look to to stand up to the police officers' association, who has their tentacles wrapped around this [police] department." Muhammad said. "How dare this department think that we can believe that they will transform themselves? There's no history or evidence.

"Whenever this department made reforms it was forced to do it by court order, so we're calling in on the justice department to step in."

Following Woods' shooting, his family filed a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit against the city in federal court, accusing police of using extreme force.

In response, the San Francisco City Attorney's Office said the shooting was justified as he allegedly told officers they would have to shoot him before he would drop the knife.

An autopsy report later revealed that that Woods had suffered 20 penetrating gunshot wounds, many of them to the back of his body, and one apparent graze from a bullet. Woods also had several large bruises consistent with non-lethal projectiles, the autopsy found.

Additionally, the autopsy also found that Woods had drugs in his system including methamphetamine and amphetamines, marijuana, anti-depressants, cough syrup, nicotine and caffeine.

During Friday's demonstration, District Attorney spokesman Max Szabo said to the demonstrators that while there's no update in any of the officer-involved shooting cases, Gascon has agreed to meet with the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition sometime next week. Details about the meeting were not immediately available.

Also on Friday, in honor of Woods, dozens of people showed up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in the city's Bayview neighborhood at around 3:30 p.m. From there, they marched down Third Street to Fitzgerald Avenue, to the site where Woods was fatally shot by police.

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