SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr hosted a town hall meeting on Monday, March 2 to provide city residents the opportunity to discuss the killing of a man in an officer-involved shooting last Thursday night.
The gathering was held at Caesar Chavez Elementary School, just a few thousand feet away from where the Guatemalan man was gunned-down.
The meeting quickly took a turn towards controversy, as several attendees of the meeting accused local law enforcement of using excessive and irresponsible force in their interactions with the public.
The conflict began following a request to respond to a bike robbery the intersection of 24th and Folsom Streets. The call, coming in at 9:45 p.m., was in reference to a Hispanic male who was reportedly carrying a knife.
A pair of plainclothes officers arrived on scene, where they discovered the suspect to be chasing a man and brandishing a large knife.
According to the officers, when they demanded the suspect drop his knife, he refused. The conflict then reportedly escalated, leading the suspect, a man in his 20s, to be shot six times.
Because the man’s next of kin does not reside in the United States, authorities have been unable to notify his family of his passing. Until they can be reached, the coroner’s officer cannot make his identity public.
Community members have identified him as Amilcar Perez-Lopez.
Perez-Lopez’s former employer spoke-out on his behalf, saying Perez-Lopez was not the type of man who would steal a bike, urging police to conduct a further investigational the incident.
Among the other issues discussed was the innocence of the man whose bike Perez-Lopez was allegedly trying to steal, and the absence of a Spanish-speaking officer at the scene of the conflict.
Citizens also questioned whether or not officers would be more likely to implement deadly force in the crime-ridden Mission District as opposed to wealthier areas of the city, putting to the table issues such as racial profiling and techniques to properly defuse a conflict without deadly force.
Public reaction to the incident may be effected by a recent officer-involved shooting in Los Angeles, where a mentally ill man known as “Africa” was gunned-down by authorities in the city’s skid row region.