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San Francisco police today released more information about an incident on Saturday evening in which a 31-year-old man was shot by an officer in the city’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. Police Chief Greg Suhr and other department leaders held a news conference and community meeting this morning to discuss the case of Brian Cooper, of San Francisco, who was shot three times at about 6:35 p.m. Saturday in the 800 block of Missouri Street. The officer who fired the shots was in the area on an unrelated call and responded to a report of a man with a gun in the first block of Dakota Street, said police Lt. Hector Sainez, the head of the department’s homicide unit.
Sainez said police began a foot pursuit and ordered Cooper to stop, but he refused. Once Cooper got to the 800 block of Missouri Street, an officer saw that he had pulled a handgun out of his waistband, Sainez said. Cooper then stumbled and, as he was getting back to his feet, he turned and allegedly pointed the gun at the officer over his left shoulder, prompting the officer to open fire, Sainez said. Cooper was hit in the foot, lower leg and lower back. Cooper was taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries, which were not life-threatening. He has since been booked into county jail on suspicion of assault on a police officer with a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of methamphetamine for sale, resisting arrest and an outstanding parole warrant, Sainez said.
Suhr defended the shooting to members of Cooper’s family, who attended today’s meeting and accused the officer of shooting Cooper in the back as he ran away. “He wasn’t running,” Suhr said. “We do not shoot fleeing felons.” Cooper’s father, Joseph Stevens, also complained that police would not let him or other family members see Cooper while he was in the hospital. Stevens said that one officer “told us to go back to the projects, and I don’t live in the projects.” He said, “It’s wrong how they treated us … I just wanted to see my son.” Suhr said the department will investigate the family’s claims.
The chief has said that a fatal officer-involved shooting in the city’s Financial District last month shows that the department needs a less-lethal option like a Taser to deploy, but said such a device would not have been useful in Saturday’s incident. “When an officer is in a gunfight, they’re going to need a gun,” Suhr said. The officer who fired the shots has been place on paid administrative leave, as is standard department procedure. The shooting is being investigated by the department’s internal affairs division, homicide unit, the district attorney’s office and the city’s Office of Citizen Complaints.
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