San Francisco

San Francisco DA: No Charges Will Be Filed Against SFPD Officers in Mario Woods and Luis Gongora Fatal Shootings

The San Francisco District Attorney announced Thursday that no charges will be filed against SFPD officers in the fatal police shootings of Mario Woods and Luis Gongora.

"Under the law no crime has been committed. Still, I am very disturbed, but must adhere to the law. “ DA George Gascon said.

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell said he respects the District Attorney's decision and "also acknowledge the pain it will cause in communities that have for so long been disproportionately impacted by violence."

"The Police Department has adopted new use of force policies and crisis intervention trainings, among other important reforms. Our goal has been, and still is, to prioritize the sanctity of life above all else," Farrell continued.

The city's Public Defender Jeff Adachi said the District Attorney's decision is "mindboggling" and fails to hold police accountable to the same laws as other citizens. 

"To date, not a single officer in San Francisco has ever been criminally charged as the result of shooting a citizen, yet citizens are charged with crimes every day despite prosecutors being unable to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Adachi said. In 2016, then-San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called for a federal review of the police department after the disclosure that some officers had exchanged racist and homophobic text messages and the 2015 fatal police shooting of Mario Woods, a black man whose shooting was caught on video and sparked protests that led to the resignation of Police Chief Greg Suhr.

"It has to be 'reasonable.' it has to be 'imminent' and we don’t think that it was reasonable to fire 21 shots at Mario Woods, or seven shots at Luis Gongora pak," said Adante Pointer, attorney representing Woods and Gongora families. "That's unreasonable.”

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.

Luis Gongora was a homeless man who was shot and killed by San Francisco police officers who said he waved a kitchen knife at them.

The officers told investigators they found Gongora seated on the sidewalk with a large knife in his hands with the blade pointed up. They ordered him to put it down multiple times, speaking in both English and Spanish, according to then Chief Suhr.

The officers said Gongora briefly put the knife down but then picked it up again, at which point one officer shot Gongora with less-lethal beanbag rounds, Suhr said.

Gongora then "stood up and ran at the officers with the knife in his hand,"  "The officers stated they feared Mr. Gongora was going to kill one of them," Suhr said.

Gongora, who had three children and a wife in Mexico and two brothers here in the United States, did not speak English and might not have understood what police were saying to him, friends said.

Video circulating in the media showing the time from the officers' initial response to the time of the shooting was well under a minute. When questioned by an audience member about the department's recent statements that officers would be encouraged to deescalate situations as a matter of policy, Suhr said the goal was to create "time and distance."

In a report released in October 2016, DOJ found that San Francisco police use force against blacks more often than other racial groups and pull over African-American drivers at a disproportionately high rate. It made 272 non-binding recommendations to help the department improve policies and practices and build community trust.

The families are devastated by what they say is a "complete lack of accountability." They stood outside Hall of Justice yelling calls of cowardice.

The Police Department has adopted new use of force policies and crisis intervention trainings, among other important reforms. Our goal has been, and still is, to prioritize the sanctity of life above all else
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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