Town Hall Meeting Over SFPD Shooting Turns Chaotic

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A town hall meeting held in San Francisco’s Bayview District Wednesday night to address a fatal police shooting there last weekend was stopped early after angry community members took over the microphone to yell at police and city officials.

The meeting was in response to the shooting of 19-year-old Seattle resident Kenneth Harding Jr., who allegedly ran from officers who had attempted to detain him Saturday for fare evasion at a San Francisco Municipal Railway stop at Third Street and Palou Avenue.

Police said Harding jumped off the Muni platform and ran through nearby Mendell Plaza where he fired at the officers. The officers returned fire, striking Harding, who died later that day.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

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The aftermath of the shooting was captured by amateur video footage and posted online that showed Harding lying on the ground in a pool of blood.

Critics of the shooting have said the footage shows Harding did not receive medical treatment immediately after the shooting despite several officers being in the area, and some have even questioned whether he had a gun or if he fired it at the officers and claimed he was shot just for evading a $2 fare.

Police have said that one of the videos taken at the scene showed a passerby picking up what investigators believe was Harding’s gun and taking it from the area before police could establish the crime scene. A gun has since been found at a local parolee’s house, but police have not confirmed whether that was the gun involved in the shooting.

On Tuesday, police also said analysis of evidence collected from Harding’s right hand revealed gunshot residue, supporting statements from the officers and what police said are several eyewitnesses that he fired at them prior to being shot.

The shooting has prompted a series of protests, including a rally and march through San Francisco on Tuesday that resulted in 45 arrests, and a capacity crowd of about 300 people came out to Wednesday night’s town hall meeting.

The meeting was organized by local community and faith leaders and held at the Bayview Opera House, located less than a block from where the shooting occurred.

At the start of the meeting, police Chief Greg Suhr planned to lay out the results of the investigation into the shooting so far, but as he started to speak, he was shouted down by several people in the crowd.

Suhr then stepped away from the microphone as organizers allowed various community members to come up and air their grievances against the Police Department and other city officials.

A second microphone was eventually set up to allow Suhr to answer questions from a handful of people, many of whom accused the Police Department of unfair treatment, including enforcing fare evasion more often in the Bayview than in other parts of the city.

Suhr said, “I get it, I get how upset everybody is” and tried to restore order by saying “I don’t care if you disrespect me, but don’t disrespect everyone else that came here to talk.”

As the meeting devolved further, about an hour into it, Suhr and other police officials left the building, but said they would be returning for more discussion with the community at a later date.

“I’ll be back all the time,” he said.

Keevin O’Brien, one of the local ministers who organized Wednesday night’s event, said it may have just been held too soon.

“The community kind of knew from the way they were feeling on arrival that it would end up this way,” O’Brien said.

But Geoffrea Morris, a local community organizer who said she was out at the scene after Saturday’s shooting, said, “I liked that (Suhr) stayed … he tried to answer to the best of his abilities.”

Supervisor Malia Cohen, whose district contains the Bayview, said, “This is part of the democratic process, the ugly side of democracy,” but added, “We’re not going to give up.”

Police have said Harding was a person of interest in a shooting in Seattle last week that killed a 19-year-old pregnant woman and injured three other people.

He was on parole in Washington after serving part of a 22-month sentence for attempting to promote the prostitution of a 14-year-old girl, and was in violation of his parole by being in San Francisco, according to police.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • genomega1

    Stay tuned folks it’s just getting started. Dog eat dog.

    • David

      He looks like Joe the Plumber.

  • SF Citizen

    I should’ve went there and thank the sfpd for removing that virus from this earth.

    • norbit

      As far as I’m concerned. If he had a gun, he was up to no good. He probably wasn’t licensed..he was armed throughout the chase. I have no problem with what SFPD did. I have a problem with the idiots that are trying to defend this kid..when clearly, there was a gun in sight. Typical behavior…from the “community.”

  • Mark D.

    Really??? Complaining that the police enforce “fare evasion” more at the Bayview station than elsewhere. Could it be that the people from the Baywview area try to evade fares more than elsewhere. God forbid the police stop these people from their god given right to ride for free. First they complained that the police shot an unarmed, innocent man. When that was shown to be false, that he indeed had a gun, that he shot at police and that he was a murdering child rapist they change their tactics. They are yelling to hear themselves yell and they have shown themselves to be not worth listening to…

  • Sam Mallory

    Can care less and good riddance. The urban (poor dirtbags mainly ethnic) community sucks.

  • IxChel

    Just watched your newscast tonight 7/20 11pm . . . to the young woman with BAMN I have just this to say, “you are deluded if you think your actions will contribute to a solution.” You mentioned the situation in Oakland and applied it to SF . . . it is not equivalent. Harding was a violent parole violator who largely provoked the police response with his own actions. It appears SFPD did its job in taking a violent felon off the streets.

  • Fed up with blaming police

    This person murdered a pregnant woman and injured others. He then came to San Francisco, in violation of parole, tried to evade police officers and shot at them, gun residue on his hand proves this, and was shot in return fire. Now the community thinks that this is poor innocent, angelic, young man that police wantonly shot. The police did nothing wrong in protecting themselves.

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  • Richard Boyle

    If the man had fired on the police there should have been traces of gunpowder on his hand. What did th autopsy show? How about we get ALL the fact here and not rely entirely on what the cops have to say. We all know they like to “cover up” as much as they can about this kind of thing.

    • Mark K

      There WAS traces of GSR on his hands stupid. If SFPD shot every member of the community that they caught evading train fare, well…Bayview would be a much emptier place. Cmon, do you really think the Police would take the life of a convicted Felon/parole violator/POI in a murder of a pregnant woman for no reason??? That’s strictly ignorant Richard, this guy was no model citizen. He shot at cops, they shot back, and luckily none of the good guys got hurt. I hope you were just being sarcastic, because it’s a sad thing to see someone with the power to vote being this dumb.

    • Spartacus Alvarez

      Um…Richy. Your brain is malfunctioning ,Richy. Do not attempt to b/s. You just look a fool trying to protect RATZ.

    • Alex Everett

      Didn’t they already verify GSR on Harding’s hands? And I know for a fact they had when you posted this inane comment.

    • I support the Cops

      You’re an idiot..Did you read the article???…The Seattle man had GSR on his trigger finger!!!! What about the community, these people are the ones who try to hide crime, they pick up bullets shells and discarded guns to try and hide the truth! The ghettos love being ghetto! And by the way…the police chased him because he ran! People who run are usually guilty of something, and this case he was. He had an illegal weapon and it was concealed, oh and by the way he was wanted for murder! The only reason the police were actually able to shoot this guy was because they were properly trained to use firearms, unlike these idiot gang banger rapist, who watch rap videos and learn how to shoot…good ridden…this whole incidence in just a way for those Bayview folks to get there two minutes of fame…… No one really cares that this man is dead….

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  • Honestly

    Not all cops are good guys. A white man was killed by Bart Police a few days ago and the police said he attacked them. Their were people present that said that wasn’t true. Cops like Mark Fuhrman a racist lier and Johannes Mehserle a lying racist and murderer are a reality. The news is permeated with stories of corrupt cops. San Francisco Police Dept itself has now been exposed as to having lawless thug cops on the force as reported recently on the Bay Area news outlets. No one deserves the benefit of the doubt, not even the police.

    • genomega1

      You need help and (or) deprogramming or both.

    • Mark K

      Well, not all cops are good guys, if that’s your opinion, that’s alright. But in this situation, there should be no outcry, if you shoot at a cop, he’s gonna shoot back. What does the community expect? What other course of action should they have taken? They are given a gun for these very situations, PROTECT THE PUBLIC, PROTECT YOUSELF!

    • Mel

      @Honestly, You are a moron. You know nothing about police work, and even less about the Mehserle case. Go back under your rock.

  • Random

    Ha ha! And don’t you forget it!

  • Alex Everett

    Yup. All the time. Because they definitely have all those resources and no oversight.

  • BOB

    jimmy go AWAY!!!!!!!!!

  • oldfart

    Muni should do as the post office does, with one angry dog on the block, they cancel the mail. With violence from rock throwing teenagers, convicted felon carrying guns etc, the T line needs to be pulled out of service till the safety of the riders is insured.

    OOPS I forgot, this will only lead to more riots, from people with nothing better to do than ignore the laws.

    • nick


  • nick

    they don’t want resolution – all they want is to complain complain complaim – that way it’s always someone else’s responsibilitiy, someone else’s fault, someone else’s (fill in the blank) – ever notice they are always talking about someone else as “they” should do this or “they” should do that not what THEY are doing or how THEY are improving.

  • Watcher

    MUNI is sure silent in all this. The plan to aggressively address fare jumpers has got a feather in its cap since it has netted a major criminal. Folks in the Bayview, unfortunately need detailed instructions on where not to stand, so they may avoid police questions, searches, and arrests concerning being in the proximety of a MUNI rail stop, specifically a LRV platform. People need to stay off all MUNI platforms if the person does not have correct fare, (MONEY). Had that 19 yr. old man had the fare, he’d still be alive, simply. MUNI & City Hall have given the approval to treat anyone riding, or standing on MUNI property aggresive if they do not have the fare. I’ve seen police go after Asian youth, White & Black youth,
    Spanish youth & old ladies in West Portal, outside SFSU on 19th Ave., Mission St. near Bernal Heights, Church ST./J Line, and all jumpers get a ticket or go to jail. Keep off the MUNI platforms!!! Save your own life, and stop yellin’ at Poliice;
    this can only make it worse for the next guy…

    • danny

      Yeah and he might have killed some of your kin by now. So keep on blaming the police.

  • PLW

    San Francisco used to be a great city… Now it is mostly trash with most of the population dependent on entitlements and handouts. The city is a dangerous place to visit. Law enforcement cannot function correctly because the Liberal city leaders only allow them to enforce the laws they approve of….

  • sara

    1)- harding was not shot for evading a fare on Muni.. HE SHOT AT POLICE… 2) what did the cops say to make anyone think it was a race issue????? NOTHING….. 3) EVIDENCE shows and proves that harding shot at the police…. WITNESS’S statements say the same thing…. the street corner jury saying nothing about what happened or are lying are are trying to protect their own……4). finger pointing at the wrong people…. point them back at yourself… your community, your family and friends in that community….. you need to help fix the problem

    the police cannot make changes nor stop all the problems on their own…. the community is larger the the police, meaning numbers… and the police cannot fix something that someone dont want fixed…. the Chief didnt walk out on you, he walked out of a hostile and violent meeting, where nothing was being resolved… and nothing was going to change, at that point… if you, the residents of the Bayview cared, you would have been adults, and listened to him, and asked your questions….

    4 years ago was 4 years ago… cant change that… can only try and change the future…. and only if the residents want the change, which at this point and time they dont…..

    dont know what more evidence and facts some want…

  • NFN

    Hmmm….Let me get this straight…He SHOT a gun at the police and the people of the Bayview think that the cops do not need to shoot back?

    Oh…I see…when someone shoots at a cop, the cop is supposed to break off pursuit, not shoot back, simply walk away…

  • Ken

    Funny this article doesn’t mention that he was wanted for shooting a girl in the head and killing her and wounding three others just days before in seattle. I am amazed that this was left out of the article. Sounds like the media is guilty of fueling public unrest!

  • David Maxwell

    The same pathetic excuse driven behavior we’ve come to expect. Thank you SFPD for putting this creature in the ground.

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  • steve

    Congratulations to the police for taking this monster off the streets. This man was wanted for shooting a girl in the head and killing her and wounding three others just days before in seattle.

    Shame on the “Yellow journalist” for not mentioning this

  • danny

    Looks as if this gay pedophile was run away for good cause and the ‘good people of San Fransico’ had not idea what was happening but the police were wrong because this man was gay so he could not have done anything wrong.


    “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the Crime.”

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