SAN FRANCISCO — Community activists and San Francisco’s public defender questioned Thursday the police response to reports of a stabbing that ended in the suspect’s fatal shooting, which was partially captured on video by a bystander.
Officers shot Mario Woods, 26, several times Wednesday after he ignored commands to drop a knife, San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said. Andraychak said Woods continued to hold the knife after an officer shot him several times with beanbags full of lead pellets, meant to be nonlethal.
Police fired after it appeared the San Francisco man was approaching an officer, Andraychak said. Police were responding to a stabbing report in the city’s Bayview neighborhood about five miles south of downtown. The area is plagued by gang violence.
A 15-second video clip circulating online shows a man bent over and holding his left hip with his left hand as he is surrounded by at least six police officers with their guns drawn.
He is seen standing up and gesturing to police before starting to wobble away from the officers. It’s unclear from the video if he’s holding a knife.
A woman standing in front of the person recording the video can be heard shouting “Just drop it! Just drop it, please!” The man continues walking away as one officer steps in front of him, walking backward while pointing his gun at him.
Seconds later the camera turns away as what sounds like at least 15 gunshots are fired amid bystanders’ screams.
Police said Woods stabbed a man about an hour before the shooting.
“There could have been other ways to subdue him,” said Chris Richard, a community activist who is organizing public meetings with police to discuss the shooting.
Police Chief Greg Suhr says the department is investigating. The San Francisco district attorney’s office also investigates police shootings. The department says it has suspended five officers pending the outcome of the investigation.
It was the third fatal police shooting in San Francisco since two police officers shot and killed a man in October after they said he allegedly grabbed one of the officer’s guns. The officers were responding to reports of a man throwing bottles in the street near a downtown construction site.
San Francisco police officers also shot and killed a man last month who was allegedly perched atop a six-story building with a stolen shotgun.
“The incidents are stacking up,” San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi said.
Adachi said the video clip from the Woods shooting “raises questions whether it was necessary for the officers to shoot.”
The San Francisco city attorney’s office called Woods an active gang member when it added him to a lawsuit in 2009 aimed at barring gang members from certain parts of the city, including several blocks in the Bayview neighborhood.
The next year, Woods pleaded guilty to robbery and participating in a gang and was sentenced to seven years in prison, according to San Francisco District Attorney spokesman Alex Bastian.