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Thursday, October 21, 2021

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News + PoliticsSFPD manages not to kill armed suspect

SFPD manages not to kill armed suspect

Non-lethal options show that five other people shot and killed could have been alive today

The very good news is that the man who created a four-hour standoff with police in the Tenderloin this afternoon is not dead.

That, even the chief of police appears to acknowledge, is the result of more than a year of active, vocal protests that led to the dismissal of former Chief Greg Suhr.

In this case, an African American man who by all accounts had mental-illness issues and was armed with a handgun was hit with beanbags, flash-ban grenades, and sound weapons but not with gunfire.

A year ago, I’m sorry to say, it’s almost certain he would have been shot and killed in moments. That’s happened repeatedly in this city to people who had no guns; the idea that an armed man might actually not instantly draw lethal fire is a signal of the pressure that is on the chief not to face the fate of his predecessor.

Chief Toney Chaplin told reporters after the four-hour standoff that “the sanctity of human life is the top priority” and that he had ordered officers to do what they are supposed to do in these situations: Create time and distance, don’t fire your weapon, wait until trained negotiators arrive.

“Time is our friend,” he said.

Chief Toney Chaplin essentially admits that community activism has forced non-lethal options
Chief Toney Chaplin essentially admits that community activism has forced non-lethal options

The fact that the cops were able to do this with an armed man is a direct indictment of the killings of Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez Lopez, Luis Gongora, and Jessica Williams, none of whom were carrying guns.

Why, in none of those cases, was a time-and-distance strategy used? Why are five people dead who should still be alive?

That’s part of the message of today’s event.

It was wild, and one could certainly argue that there was overkill: Dozens and dozens of officers. Two tactical trucks. At least four officers with bean-bag shooters. I counted at least 15 bean-bag rounds and half a dozen flash-bangs.

Another whole group of officers were deployed to keep a crowd of angry people, who clearly still don’t trust the police, from crossing lines.

All of that for one person who, according to eyewitnesses I talked to, was for much of the time down on the ground, with his hands underneath him.

At one point, the SFPD public affairs team tweeted that bean bags and flash bangs had been deployed “to prevent escape,” which was just silly: With the entire area blocked off, and police everywhere, the guy wasn’t going anywhere.

From what we’ve been able to piece together at this point, the suspect, wearing no shirt, was out in front of the Hibernia Bank on Jones. Police officers on bicycles confronted him, and told him to take his hands of out his pockets.

Chief Chaplin told reporters that the man said he had a gun, brandished it at least once, and said he wanted to die rather than go to prison. One report had it that he was recently released from county jail in Reno.

None of the witnesses we talked to saw the man pull a gun; in fact, one witness, Scott Hatfield, told me that the man seemed unstable, but at no point pulled or showed a weapon. “His hands were in his pockets,” Hatfield, who was on the scene before police cleared the area, said.

Others said that for much of the standoff, the suspect was on the ground, with his hands beneath him.

I asked Chaplin about that, and he said he didn’t have the details yet, but insisted that the man had told officers he had a gun and had shown them a gun.

The cops – intentionally or not – parked the big, bulky, Tac Squad trucks in a position that kept the reporters on the scene from seeing what was happening.

Eventually, we saw the man removed in a stretcher, with what Chaplin said were injuries, but not life-threatening injuries.

This time-and-distance training is nothing new; what’s new is that the community is not tolerating police killings and has forced some changes not just in policy but in practice.

So now we will see if the officers who failed to follow those policies in the past shootings will be held to account.

Here’s our coverage timeline:


All public transport is blocked off on market street as SFPD officers negotiate with suspect possibly armed with a gun, on Market and Jones.

Tank on Market & Jones as SFPD negotiates with allegedly armed suspect . Photo by Arash Malekzadeh

Videos from the scene earlier show an African American male standing against the fence as multiple police officers point their guns at him, video taken from across the street doesn’t show whether the suspect has a gun in his hand.


















Bitch ass SFPD about to kill this brotha man God please help him!!!

A video posted by Munch Majorz (@munch_majorz415) on


In recent years, the SFPD has been heavily criticized for not descalating the situation and resorting to the use of lethal force when confronted with possible suspect, especially when dealing with people of color.

Market and 7th blocked as police cars line up. Photo by Shajia Abidi

Police officers on top of a tank can be seen aiming their guns at the suspect, who was last reported to be in a prone position. SFPD van currently blocking view of the standoff.

Another Instagram video shows a group of people heckling police officers on the scene reflecting the anger and frustration palpable on the streets of San Francisco against SFPD.


SFPD PIO Grace Gatpandan says a hostage negotiation team is on the scene, “So officers responded to this location regarding a suspect who is armed with a weapon, he was refusing to comply with officers’ orders to show us his hands. At this point, we have a hostage negotiation team on the scene actively talking with him in order to take him successfully into custody without using any force”

UPDATE: 4:15 – from our reporter on the scene Shajia Abidi

SFPD officer  Sgt. Holder “The guy has a gun in his pocket and he is refusing to take his hands out,”  Holder said he wasn’t certain whether the suspect has a gun, “The suspect says he has a gun and won’t take his hands out of his pocket,” he said.

According to witnesses on the scene the suspect has mental health issues, his family is on the scene speaking to him but he’s reportedly refusing to listen to them.

Update 5:00 PM: 

SFPD now says deployed bean bags and flash bangs to “avoid escape.” However, escapse seems an unlikely concern with all the police presence

Update 5:47 PM: 

The standoff now appears to be over, guns withdrawn and stretcher being brought to the scene. Suspect’s condition is unclear.

Update 5:53 PM: 

SFPD announces that the suspect is alive & that they recovered a gun. Witness in lockdown in building at 7th and jones sent this pic of police taking suspect into custody.

This is developing story

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  2. Do you have anything to contribute beyond this? It’s your recurring theme on 90% of your replies. That and various insults.

  3. The left loves public sector workers unless they are cops, then they hate them.

    But then who said Tim has to be consistent, logical or tolerant?

  4. <<o. ✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:::::::!bq177p:….,…

  5. In light of Minn and Dallas, I want to give everyone from the cops to protestors in this situation a hug.

  6. “The temptation to quickly end it with deadly force was ever-present.”

    Really? Wow.

    If that’s the default temptation of cops in a situation like this, then that is part of the problem. Your statement indicates that (despite the fact that this was a heavily controlled situation), the urge to kill was constant. If the focus is on a peaceable outcome then professional training and patience should be the default response. Other countries don’t have this trigger happy response when it comes to dealing with it’s citizens. Even those with mental illness who claim to be armed. Glad CIT is working with SFPD and glad for an outcome where no one died — but clearly we have a long, long way to go to train that temptation out of the system.

  7. Now all we need is a way aoid putting everyone on hold for four hours while city officials work out how to handle a man lying on the ground on his stomach.

  8. Romero’s killing is being investigated. His killers are likely not being paid by the city to carry a deadly weapon. If their identities were known and the killing witnessed and videotaped, they would not be on a fast track to San Quentin. If they were cops, they would be “transferred to desk duty” pending an investigation which at best would lead to them tried and being found not guilty.

    The justice system for ordinary killers is there. For cops it is not. That’s why killer cops need to be written about.

  9. Jesse Williams, who stars on an aging network television drama, can suck my left nut and make the right one jealous. I’m a U.S. citizen, I pay taxes and I’ll stand up and say whatever the fuck I want, when I want, where I want. Don’t like it, don’t have to listen.

  10. CIT works. This four standoff could have very quickly and easily turned deadly. The police had license to shoot. They didn’t. They practiced what we teach in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training. I also believe they have heard the loud and repeated protests from our community regarding the use of deadly force. They de-escalated this dangerous encounter with someone suffering a mental health crisis by creating time, distance and report.

    This was a very difficult situation. The temptation to quickly end it with deadly force was ever-present.

    De-escalation was applied and prevailed. I applaud our police department.

    David Elliott Lewis, Ph.D.
    CIT Trainer and member of SFPD Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training Mental Health Working Group.
    Secretary, Mental Health Board of the City and County of San Francisco.
    Member, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), SF Board of Directors.

  11. The headline is also logically challenged.

    Just because this incident ended with a positive outcome doesn’t mean that the circumstances were identical in the other cases. Most notably, in this case the individual apparently made no effort to leave the scene still carrying a weapon.

  12. Great to see that Tim can spin a positive story about the police into a negative. These cops risked their lives to deal with a mentally disturbed person with a gun.

    By Tim’s logic — this cases “proves” that other police shootings could have been avoided. So I guess the cops should have killed this guy to justify prior use of force.

    Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

  13. Actually, I do give a shit. That’s why I posted what I did and why I continue to post about the victims of random crime as you, Tim and the ilk continue to focus disproportionate energy on law enforcement killings (which are terrible) and continue to absolutely ignore the wanton and brazen random killings that so far outnumber police killings by factors of 10X. And one begins to wonder why there is never discussion about this here. Never. It simply never happens. Why?

  14. I think that would be an interesting series. What happens to this man after arrest, what help does he receive (or not) and where does he land.

  15. Here’s an idea: As Tim’s effectiveness would be diminished by taking-on EVERY injustice, and his passion seems to be accountability and change in law enforcement practices, with a focus upon law enforcement killing black men, how about YOU take up the cause of victims of crime?

    Or, as I suspect, you really don’t give a shit. As Jesse Williams said: “If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.”

    So please, stop pretending that you care. You don’t.

  16. Expert commentary on policing by the police experts at 48 Hills. Yet not a word on the random killing of beloved Rigoberto Romero in the Mission. Right, the cops werent involved. I forgot. His life would have been more important if killed by a cop instead of just being the victim of random crime.

  17. Glad no one was hurt.

    Was wondering what the chopper was for.

    Hope this is more than a 72 hour hold.

Comments are closed.

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