Neighbors and friends of a 21-year-old man who was fatally shot by police in San Francisco's Mission District voiced their anger and frustrations at a community meeting held Monday night by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.
Dozens of Mission District residents gathered for the town hall meeting at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, located just a block and a half away from the scene of the fatal officer-involved shooting on Thursday night.
Police said the man, later identified as Almicar Perez-Lopez, is suspected of trying to rob a man of his bicycle while armed with a long-blade kitchen knife. Two officers in plain clothes spotted Perez-Lopez at about 9:45 p.m. Thursday near 24th and Folsom streets, and ordered him to drop the knife, police said.
Suhr said the officers just happened to be in the area when they spotted Perez-Lopez standing with the long knife. Suhr said at least eight witnesses have corroborated that report.
Investigators said Perez-Lopez lunged at officers with the knife, which prompted officers to fire their weapons. Perez-Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene.
Community members at the town hall meeting disagreed with Suhr's account of what happened the night Perez-Lopez was killed. While Suhr referred to Perez-Lopez as the suspect, community members referred to him as the victim.
Friends said they do not believe Perez-Lopez would steal anything and neighbors suspect he was the victim of a robbery. They also called on police to conduct a more thorough investigation.
Friend Fernando Quinonez said Perez-Lopez was in the construction industry and worked to send money to his family in Guatemala.
San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes the Mission, attended the town hall meeting as well and called for an independent investigation into what occurred the night of the shooting.
"We have a community that has a different sense of what happened," Campos explained to Suhr.
Campos said Perez-Lopez appears to have been born into an indigenous family in Guatemala and that his family does not speak Spanish, but instead speak a language indigenous to Guatemala. He said he was not sure how much Spanish Perez-Lopez actually knew.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.