SAN FRANCISCO—Filimoni Raiyawa, 57, died while being placed under arrest for attacking two San Francisco police officers on July 30.
Raiyawa was initially approached by the police officers in conjunction with a traffic collision. At approximately 5:30 a.m., Raiyawa, driving a light blue Honda Odyssey, rear-ended a BMW at the intersection of Richardson Avenue and Francisco Street. The force of the collision pushed the BMW into cars parked across the street.
The driver of the BMW approached Raiyawa after the collision, and heard him speaking incoherently. According to San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr’s accounts during a press conference, Raiyawa then got out of the van and was saying “something about God, God’s will.” Alarmed, the driver of the BMW backed away and called 911.
Raiyawa began walking toward Lombard and Pierce Streets when two female officers arrived on the scene. When they attempted to detain Raiyawa, he became violent.
“He struck one of the officers several times about the head and shoulders, beating her to the ground nearly unconscious, and throwing her partner by the wrist,” Suhr said. The altercation was apparently so violent that it knocked over a construction site’s chainlink fence.
Raiyawa then attempted to enter a nearby IHOP restaurant, but staff on hand refused to open the door.
More officers arrived on the scene and subdued Raiyawa outside the Surf Motel on Lombard. During the arrest, Raiyawa suffered a medical emergency and stopped breathing. Emergency responders attempted to resuscitate Raiyawa, but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of his death is still unknown.
Suhr reported that investigators collected surveillance footage from nearby businesses. This footage is believed to have documented the struggle between Raiyawa and police officers, as well as the attempted resuscitation. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office will decide whether to release the video footage to the public.
The two injured officers were taken to a hospital. One received treatment for a concussion; the other received treatment for her hand or wrist.
Raiyawa was also wanted in Sonoma County for questioning regarding the death of Solomon Cohen, 96. Raiyawa was Cohen’s caretaker, and was the prime suspect in connection with the fatal injuries Cohen received in the early morning of July 30.
According to Sonoma Couny sheriff Lieutenant Carlos Basurto, the incident occurred sometime around 4:00 a.m. in the 13000 block of Dupont Road in Sebastopol. During that time, Cohen sustained severe injuries to the head and body. A member of Cohen’s household found the injured man and called for an ambulance at approximately 5:00 a.m., reporting that Cohen had suffered a fall. He was taken to the hospital and later died of his injuries.
Basurto stated that police believed that Cohen was beaten, as his injuries appeared to be caused by repeated blows with an unknown object. The assault is still under investigation, but police believe that Raiyawa fled the scene in a light blue Honda Odyssey, which is the car he was later reported driving at the scene of the traffic accident.