The San Francisco Police Officer’s Association is laying part of the blame for an early morning officer involved shooting on the president of the city’s police commission and the department’s use of force policy. Police Commission President Suzy Loftus and the commission itself “must share responsibility” for the shooting “because they have taken away ‘less than lethal’ options from SFPD,” association President Martin Halloran said in a statement today.
The events that led to the shooting began to unfold just before 4 a.m. when two officers responded to the 500 block of Capitol Avenue to investigate a dispute between two neighbors, one of whom was apparently banging on a wall and is the subject of a restraining order, according to police. When the officers arrived they “went to great lengths to calm and subdue the angry, violent suspect, using ‘time and distance’ techniques,” Halloran said.
After about 15 minutes, the suspect allegedly “went berserk and physically attacked the officers,” Halloran said. The officers used pepper spray on the suspect, who is much larger than the officers and behaved as if he were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Halloran. Also, during the scuffle one of the officer’s batons either fell to the ground or was taken by the suspect.
Because the pepper spray was ineffective, and because department policy forbids the use of Tasers or the control hold known as a carotid restraint to subdue suspects, one of the officers was left with no other choice but “to stop the dangerous suspect by discharging his firearm,” Halloran said. The suspect was struck by gunfire but was able to get away from officers and barricade himself inside his home. He called 911 and said he was shot but continued to refuse to come out, police spokeswoman Giselle Talkoff said.
Eventually a police SWAT team entered the home and arrested the man, who was taken to a hospital with injuries that are not considered life-threatening. The two officers were also injured during the struggle but both were taken to a hospital and are expected to survive, Talkoff said. The police department’s use-of-force policy has long been a source of tension between the police commission and the city’s rank-and-file officers.
The police association has been unsuccessfully pushing the city to allow the use of Taser stun guns and in December the association sued the city in an effort to block use-of-force policies that prevent officers from shooting at cars or using the carotid restraint. Loftus did not immediately return a call for a response to Halloran’s statement.
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