SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) A homeless man who was killed by police in April in San Francisco’s Mission District was shot six times, including once in the head and once in the back, and had amphetamine, methamphetamines and THC in his system at the time of his death, according to an autopsy report released Thursday.
Luis Gongora, 45, was shot by police around 10 a.m. on April 7 at a homeless encampment on Shotwell Street near 18th Street after homeless outreach workers reported seeing a man in the area swinging a large kitchen knife, according to police reports.
Former Police Chief Greg Suhr said after the shooting that arriving officers, who have been identified as Sgt. Nate Steger and Officer Michael Mellone, found Gongora seated on the sidewalk with a large knife in his hands with the blade pointed up.
The officers ordered Gongora to put the knife down multiple times in English and Spanish and fired less-lethal beanbag rounds at him before shooting him when he allegedly “stood up and ran at the officers with the knife in his hand,” Suhr said.
Gongora was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The autopsy report indicates that Gongora was shot six times, including once in the upper left forehead, once in the left shoulder, once in the right upper back, once in the right lower chest and twice in the right forearm.
Blood tests detected methamphetamines at a level of 1.01 micrograms per liter and amphetamines at 0.14 micrograms per liter. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, concentrations between 0.01 and 2.5 micrograms per liter are consistent with recreational use.
Blood tests also detected mephentermine, a cardiac stimulant, and THC.
After the shooting, some witnesses made statements to reporters contradicting the allegation that Gongora charged officers, saying that he appeared confused. Attorney John Burris, who filed a claim with the city in June on behalf of Gongora’s family, has also denied that Gongora was behaving aggressively.
Friends and family members have said that Gongora, a migrant from Mexico’s Yucatan region, did not speak English well and may have spoken Spanish as a second language.
Surveillance video that circulated after the shooting shows the officers getting out of their cars, firing bean bag rounds and then firing the lethal shots within around 30 seconds after their arrival on the scene. The video does not show Gongora.
Gongora’s shooting contributed to rising tensions in San Francisco following the Dec. 2, 2015 police shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview District. Bystander videos of that shooting, which occurred on a busy street in daylight hours, circulated on the internet and triggered widespread outrage and protests.
Woods was also allegedly armed with a knife during the confrontation with five officers that led to the shooting.
Shortly after Gongora’s death, a group of activists who came to be known as the “Frisco Five” launched a hunger strike outside the Mission Police Station calling for Suhr’s resignation or firing.
While Suhr remained in office through the end of that action, he resigned at the request of Mayor Ed Lee on May 19 following the police shooting of 29-year-old Jessica Williams.
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