UPDATE: At the Police Commission meeting at City Hall SFPD Chief Toney Chaplain said Sgt Nate Steger voluntarily transferred from the Professional Standards and Principled Policing Bureau.
Sgt. Nate Steger, who fatally shot 45-year old Luis Gongora, is now a member of the unit tasked with reforms aimed at preventing officer involved shootings. Let that sink in: A police officer who is currently under investigation for shooting a man on the streets of San Francisco is now part of a unit that is working on solving the very problem, the Examiner reports. That’s right, the fox will guard the henhouse.
The Professional Standards and Principled Policing Bureau was formed in January by then police Chief Greg Suhr to focus on leading reform efforts in the aftermath of the police killing of Mario Woods in December 2015. The Bureau’s was first headed by the current Interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin who has since reaffirmed his faith in Suhr’s reform efforts.
Gongora was unhoused at the time of his shooting and living at an encampment on Shotwell. Last month, Gongora’s family attorneys from the John L. Burris Law Firm announced the filing of a intentional wrongful death lawsuit against the SFPD. Gongora was shot five times, of the bullet wounds, there is only one lethal wound, a gunshot to the left temple. The other wounds are to arms and shoulder and a graze wound to the abdomen.
SFPD officers’ statement alleges that Gongora lunged at them with a knife and refused to put the knife down when asked. But according to autopsy report shared by Burris the lethal bullet wound to Gongora’s head reveals a steep downward trajectory. At least eight witnesses allege that the incident unfolded quickly, and a video of the shooting reveals that the incident took place under 30 seconds. The shooting is currently under investigation.
The news is a crushing blow for community members who have long criticized efforts for police reforms, and for Gongora’s family and supporters the appointment of Sgt. Steger is a cruel mockery of their grief.
Gongora’s cousin Luis Poot Pat said he thinks the police department should have done exactly the opposite. “Steger should be fired and barred from ever serving on a police force,” he said. Author and activist Adriana Camarena isn’t mincing her words either: “Steger’s assignment to the bureau is a slap in the face to the family of Luis Góngora Pat and our community; an act of contempt towards all of us who are fighting for justice for Luis’s death at the hands of Steger and Mellone, and the many other lives stolen by SFPD. ”