There was Alex Nieto. ThenAmilcar Perez-Lopez. But it was Mario Woods’ firing squad execution in December of 2015 that lit up San Francisco, with politicians, commissioners and police pooh-bahs all pledging to “do something” about use of force policies that amount to nothing less than a license to kill. Anytime. Anywhere. Swearing to implement de-escalation techniques. Claiming they would arm officers with shields so they could deal with people holding knives.
But it was all talk; it’s had no effect. Because on Thursday, April 7th, in the Mission District of San Francisco, a homeless man, Luis Gongora, allegedly “brandishing” a knife, was executed on the street by SFPD. The police say he had stood, that he was lunging at them. Witnesses say he was sitting on the ground. Police say he was waving the knife around. Witnesses say the kitchen cutting board knife was on his hip.
There is no known video of the execution per se. There isn’t even a picture of the man.
What has been made available, via a surveillance camera, is a clear video of the police cars rolling up, the policemen getting out, one with a bean-bag rifle, and them shouting at the man as they approach him. There’s no Youtube video available yet so I can’t embed it, but it is available here, and it is only a minute twenty. The first shot occurs as the officers move out of the viewing area, at 00:38. Watch it.
The police claimed (at least initially) that they attempted to de-escalate the situation, but they are lying. The video clearly shows two officers approaching the man, one with a rifle pointed at him, one or both of them shouting at him. This is not a de-escalation technique! Especially when it is not clear that the man a) understands English and b) is not mentally ill or in some kind of altered state.
Then the one with the rifle allegedly fires four bean-bag (“less lethal”) rounds at the man to no effect, or so the officers claim. (This is the same kind of weapon that tore a hole in Scott Olsen’s skull on October 25th, 2011 in Oakland, CA). Finally, the officers shoot and mortally wound Gongora (he is taken to the hospital and dies there from his wounds).
They could have de-escalated. They could have stayed where they were. The video clearly demonstrates this. Even the San Francisco Chronicle’s police apologist columnist agrees:
First, the concept of “time and distance” when confronting a suspect armed with a knife didn’t happen in this case. The idea is to keep the suspect contained, give him some time to run out of steam, and hopefully defuse the situation.But video of the incident shows the cops went from leaving their cars to firing beanbag rounds in 25 seconds. Six seconds later, the first shots were fired. That doesn’t look good.
No, Nevius, it doesn’t. They could have tried talking instead of shouting; they could have tried talking to him in Spanish, or waiting for someone to be available to do so. They could have done almost anything other than what they did do, and Luis Gongora might well still be alive. They did not. Because they didn’t have any reason to.
The police no longer exist (if they ever did) to protect and serve the public. They make it clear from their statements and their attitudes that their only concern is to protect and serve themselves. Until both the laws regarding extra-judicial murder by cop are changed, and police attitudes are changed, this is not going to stop. The next execution of Alex Amilar Mario Luis Gongora is just an unknown, but certain, number of days in the future.