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Suspect Killed By San Francisco Police Struggled With Mental Illness

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Police and onlookers at the scene of an officer-involved shooting of a stabbing suspect in San Francisco's Portola neighborhood.

Police and onlookers at the scene of an officer-involved shooting of a stabbing suspect in San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood.

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The man shot and killed by a San Francisco police officer on Wednesday had a history of mental illness, according to Police Chief George Gascon.

Police were called to a home on Bacon Street in the Portola District Wednesday where a teenage girl had been stabbed. Officers cornered a man holding a scalpel-like object and ordered him to put down they weapon.

They opened fire when the man lunged at them. The suspect later died at San Francisco General Hospital.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Officers later learned he had struggled with mental health issues for a decade, Gascon said at a news conference the next day.

“Apparently he reacts very violently to noises,” Gascon said.

The officers are on paid administrative leave while the case is investigated.

The incident raised the question once again whether San Francisco police officers should be armed with stun guns. The Police Commission voted 4 – 3 against adopting stun guns last March.

“Whether for instance having a Taser, whether that would have precluded the shooting or not, I can’t speculate,” he said.

But officers should have more tools in situations such as this, where there were several other teenagers in the house at the time of the shooting.

“We know that there are tools out that would probably give our officers another option that we do not have today,” he said.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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