The San Francisco Police body camera footage from the officer involved shooting on Jan 6th appears to contradict some of the official claims made earlier.
This is the first body camera footage from a shooting incident that has been made public and was released by the Public Defender’s office.
Sean Moore, 43, who has been held on $2 million bail and faces a several felony charges, was shot twice – in the groin and the stomach – and was hospitalized. Moore is mentally ill and suffers from bipolar schizophrenia. Charges against Moore include assaulting a police officer, making criminal threats & resisting arrest.
The Public Defender’s office is asking for all charges to be dropped against Moore. The body camera footage shows officers at first attempting to speak to Moore but quickly resorting to aggressive behavior before attempting to pepper spray him, hit him with a baton and shooting him twice. From the beginning Moore responded to officers in an aggressive manner; he can be seen cursing them and asking them to leave his premises.
Moore’s mother, Cleo Moore, who has worked as a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital said the incident “didn’t have to happen this way if the officers had been trained on how to take care of mentally ill patients,” she said.
“My son isn’t a vicious person he is struggling everyday with mental illness,” Mrs Moore said.
“The most important part of the video is that Mr Moore is retreating when he is struck and Officer Cha is approaching towards him,” said Moore’s attorney Brian Pearlman. This appears to contradict the statements issued by the SFPD that Moore was approaching towards them when he was shot.
SFPD’s version as of last week:
According to Capt. McEachern, two officers from the Taravel station responded to a call made from an individual who claimed that his neighbor was violating a restraining order. The individual said that the neighbor (Moore) was banging on their homes’ shared wall.
The officers arrived 515 Capitol Ave. at 4:15 a.m. on Jan. 6, and began discussing the restraining order with Moore. According McEachern, Moore didn’t respond to the officers’ attempt to explain the restraining order to him: “There were verbal profanities being yelled (by Mr. Moore)”, and McEachern said Moore didn’t respond to questions asked of him by the two officers.
According to McEachern, things escalated when Moore allegedly grabbed and pulled the restraining order from the hands of one of the officers. This is when, according to McEachern, the officer’s partner pepper sprayed Moore in the face, which resulted in Moore allegedly kicking an officer in the face. The officer sustained bruises.
At this point officers moved into arrest him and one officer hit him with a baton: “Moore punched the officer in the face, and advanced on the second officer, who fired his weapon as he was retreating down the steps.”
According to SFPD, it took an hour for the tactical team to break down the door and take Moore to the hospital. According to both Moore’s family and SFPD Moore was bleeding profusely during this time and his apartment was covered in blood.
The most pressing discrepancy that is apparent in the video is police statement that Mr Moore charged at them. Body camera video shows Moore retracting back to his house as Officer Cha goes towards Moore.
Before the shooting, the officers can be heard giving several confusing directions to Moore. They announce that he’s under arrest and ask if he understands that, while at another point they ask him to come out of his house so they can call the ambulance for him.
Moore’s mother says that the police had been to the house several times and knew about Moore’s mental health condition. Attorney Pearlman said that the Public Defender’s office is trying to get their hands on a police report that was filed earlier which mentions Moore’s illness.
A quick look at records of restraining orders issued against Moore reveal that several complaints had been filed starting from one of the first restraining orders issued in 2014.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said that the officers violated the Police Department’s body camera policy by viewing the body camera footage before they made their initial statement. Acting SFPD Chief Toney Chaplin denied that later at a press conference.
De-escalation when dealing with the mentally ill:
The San Francisco Police Department has been under immense pressure since the 2015 fatal shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview neighborhood.
The Police Commission deliberated for several months and revised the Police Department’s use-of-force policy for the first time since 1995. The revised use-of-force policy puts more emphasis on de-escalation.
Adachi insisted that the officers could have handled the situation better: “This is a situation where Mr. Moore did not have to be shot. If the officers had used de-escalation techniques, they could have gone home.”
However, acting Chief Toney Chaplin insisted that the officers showed “great restraint” as they were were dealing with a large suspect with an unknown object in his hand who was at a physical advantage as he stood on top of the stairs.
Adachi said the body camera video reveals that Moore was visibly agitated from the start and that the officers didn’t spend enough time de-escalting the situation: “It’s pretty significant – based on the evidence and the video tape – that crisis intervention team was not called at any point. Clearly, once the officers had gone back to the bottom of the stairs that was a point, for example, that the crisis intervention could have and should have been called. Instead the officers went up the stairs and clearly escalated the situation because they took out their batons, they’re clearly dealing with somebody who is clearly agitated,” he said.
Adachi said officers are meant to be trained in de-escalation and are meant to call crisis intervention in case they aren’t trained.
“There’s obviously a big gap between what the officers are being told at the academy and what is being done at the street,” he said.
With special thanks to the Examiner’s Jonah Owen Lamb for providing audio recordings of the police press conference.