OAKLAND (KCBS / AP) — Relatives of a Washington state parolee who San Francisco police believe fatally shot himself as he ran away from officers say they doubt the department’s account.

Kenneth Harding’s family said Monday they were troubled that police first said the 19-year-old was fatally shot by officers then days later said they now believed he killed himself with his own gun.

Authorities say officers tried to stop Harding while seeking farebeaters on a light-rail train July 16 in the city’s Bayview district.

Adante Pointer, an associate of Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, said he has not yet decided whether to file a lawsuit on behalf of Harding’s family but at this point wants to “help them get the answers they deserve.”

Pointer alleged that San Francisco police have given out “conflicting” versions of what happened to Harding in a confrontation that began around 4:45 p.m. on July 16, when police said he ran from officers who had attempted to detain him for fare evasion at a San Francisco Municipal Railway light-rail stop at Third Street and Palou Avenue.

Police initially said officers fatally shot Harding after he fired at them but they later said they believe he killed himself with his own gun. They said they do not know if it was an accident or Harding shot himself on purpose.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

San Francisco chief medical examiner Dr. Amy Hart said that the bullet believed to have killed Harding that was removed from his head was a .380-caliber bullet, which is inconsistent with the service ammunition used by San Francisco police.

Police said last week that they also found an unused .380-caliber bullet in Harding’s right jacket pocket.

Pointer said, “The truth seems to be far at hand” and he wants San Francisco police to release records, witness statements and other documents so that Harding’s family “can have the closure they deserve.”

Pointer said witnesses he has interviewed claim that Harding “never fired a shot” at police and “was in full sprint” away from police when he was shot and killed.

No weapon was found by police at the scene, but amateur video footage captured in the shooting’s aftermath showed a passerby picking up what police investigators believe was Harding’s gun and taking it from the area before police could establish the crime scene.

A cellphone and several bullet casings were also apparently taken from the scene, police said.

Pointer also alleged that San Francisco police have engaged in “a concerted attack on the character and reputation” of Harding, who allegedly had a criminal record as a juvenile in Seattle and was considered a person of interest in a recent homicide in that city.

Police say Harding was on parole after being convicted of trying to force a 14-year-old into prostitution and was being sought for questioning in a Seattle murder.

Harding’s mother, Danika Chatman of Seattle, said her son was in San Francisco to visit family and embark on a rap music career. Chatman said she is both angry and frustrated.

“Kenneth was a God-fearing person. He loved the Lord,” she said. “He had been raised in church all of his life.”

Chatman said she does not know what happened when her son was killed.

She said he came to San Francisco recently because “he was going to meet his manager and get his career started” as a rap singer.

Chatman said Harding’s older brother has had a recording contract with a label in San Francisco for 10 years and wanted to help Harding get his career going.

Chatman said Harding planned to return to Seattle in the fall to attend a community college there.

“He was a very loving, caring and giving person and he loved his mother,” Chatman said.

Harding’s sister and several of his aunts and uncles joined Chatman at the news conference at the office that Pointe shares with Burris, who is out of town.

Several religious and community leaders from San Francisco and Oakland also participated, as did Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant III, the Hayward man who was fatally shot by a BART police officer at the Fruitvale station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009.

A San Francisco police spokesman said that investigators are still seeking witnesses to the shooting and the department will be as transparent as it can.

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

Comments (34)
  1. D says:

    Who cares what they say; he was a thug.

  2. afn says:

    Does it matter he shot himself or shot by the police? He was a criminal, sex predictory, pimp, and he was violent having a gun around him anyway, he desired to be death.

    So, you people are trying to argue and make a case out of this? Oh yeah, I know, the Black community is famous bringing lawsuit, discrimination claim, etc.

    You know, if this thug was in China, the police shot him and provided no further explanation or demand from the public. If the public wants to involve, they go to jail too. These people taking advantage of American system.

  3. web says:

    Oh yeah, the brother in Bay area as a suspect too? That explains what kind of people he and his brother.

  4. Concerned says:

    So regardless of how it happened…. this dude is dead because cops decided to chase him down over whether or not he got a free ride on the light rail!? wow.

    1. SF resident since birth!!! says:

      He was running because he had a GUN!…..I know if I had a gun why would allow cops to stop me? C’mon, are you serious…..who cares if he was being stop for skipping toll…..Thank God that he ran and got what he deserve! Anyone who thinks it is ok to PIMP OUT A 14 yrs old should either be locked up for life or 6 feet under!

    2. Wrong says:

      No. This dude is dead because he 1. Ran and 2. fired at cops. If he didn’t run and just cooperated with the fare thing, he probably would still be alive.

    3. BOB says:

      So you STILL don’t GET IT! He chose to RUN, He chose to SHOOT AT THE COPS, He chose TO DIE, End of story!!!!!!!!!

  5. Dan says:

    Concerned, he’s dead because he shot at the police, then he shot himself. I see reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit.

  6. Shoulda known betta says:

    Seriously, anybody that feels bad for him should try being shot at by a stupid boy running from the cops and shooting over his shoulder. Besides it would have cost him $2 to live. His bad

  7. genomega1 says:

    This is called the black lottery: Cities usually settle with these people rather than defend themselves from the MSM charges of being racists. You see the MSM feel that these people should be compensated for their plight in life.

    1. KRS says:

      Why is it “black” lottery?? Racism and ignorance is pathetic …. and you’re just all kinds of sadness, aren’t you?!

      1. Seriously says:

        Duh, KRS, it’s “black” lottery because it’s BLACK people claiming RACISM by the police caused their family member’s (thug’s) death. You’re a moron, aren’t you?

  8. sara says:

    what kind of church was he raised in????? really.. raise up in church, good family… what does the family consider good…. raping and pimping kids out at 13-14 years old?????? shows what kinda family they are….

    @Concerned…. bet you anything, all he would have got was a ticket… and the cops would not have even run him out, so they would have not know
    n about the warrant from Washington… he ran, his bad, he made that choice…

    1. KRS says:

      Sara, a person’s actions and choices may not always reflect on his/her family’s values. People are influenced by more than just their parents – just look at Casey Anthony. Or is that different? Please – save your judgmental attitude and leave the judging to God!

  9. stephen says:

    My nephew is almost 18 yrs old and he has been going to church all his life. Currently, he has a summer job at the UC Berkeley lab which requires 3 hrs of commuting everyday. He really feels privileged to have an opportunity to work with bright people and learn form them,I am happy for him because he seems to be on the right course and have the right mind set for all the challenges ahead of him. As most of us already know, real life is not easy and you don’t get many chances.

  10. Kool says:

    Every time a thug, rapist or killer gets killed by the police, the black community complains about discrimination… What happen to innocent people who are the victims of those people… Who fight for them?? Just like the 14 years old innocent girl.. She got a life, too and this thug ruined her life…

  11. ANNE says:

    I sure don’t want my kids in Harding’s church if it leads to pimping young girls and being a person of interest in a murder. I guess the mom is in major denial or practices a much different type of faith….

    1. KRS says:

      Casey Anthony’s parents probably feel the same way about their daughter. Does that mean you don’t want to go to their church, either?? Or is it ok because they’re White??

      1. Seriously says:

        KRS, every comment you’ve written is ridiculous. You are the racist. It isn’t the cops’ fault that this a##hole happened to be black. It’s completely irrelevant. He shot at the cops. That’s why he’s dead.

      2. JeeSus is pronounced HeyZeus says:

        As an Orange person, I have to say the Anthony case was the worst piece of news in the last 5 years, honestly. White, Black or Orange, people are people. As for faith, people need to realize that there is no such thing as “God” or “Satan” once you move on past fairy tales, you get a better outlook on life, embrace Nihilism and live happier!

    2. Seriously says:

      Yeah, either she’s in major denial or she’s a major liar. I’m not sure which. It’s pretty hard to believe she actually thinks her son was a religious person.

  12. KRS says:

    Obviously, the people leaving comments have never been followed in a store because you’re Black; you’ve never been harassed by police because you’re on a bike and there were reports of “drug dealers” selling dope on bikes in the area; you’ve never been assumed ignorant because the color of your skin. I’m not defending his actions if he did shoot at the cops, but PLEASE, don’t make the mistake of lumping us together and making broad, racist statements about Black people! Your ignorance just reinforces why Black people don’t trust other races and authority. It’s really sad to see how racist people really are ….

  13. jam says:

    every excuse coming from blacks is “Racism”

    1. Seriously says:

      Sad but true. And what’s really sad is they’re only hurting themselves.

  14. deon says:

    from kindergarten to middle school all the guys who bullied me and took what i had were black. im not hating! thats just what happened! i never asked for that

  15. Audrey Block says:


  16. RSB says:

    Audrey Block…..please try making sence next time…….

  17. Seriously says:

    I don’t believe that his family really doubts the police’s story. But I suppose it IS possible that they are that stupid. The police originally thought they shot him because they shot at him and he was hit–you would have assumed it was your bullet, too. But now that they have the bullet and it’s a caliber not used by the police, it is obvious to all that the bullet did not come from the police. Therefore it obviously came from the gun that the deceased was shooting over his shoulder with. This is not a change in the police’s story, it’s an updated story based on new information, and it completely supports the police’s original story, BTW. Only a liar or a moron would fail to acknowledge this.

    1. BOB says:

      They don’t care, they see $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. They feel what he has done in the past is normal. He’s dead and I say GOODBYE to his PUNK A$$!!!!!!!!!

  18. Support Police says:

    I was wondering what took John Burris so long to enter the picture?? So whats his defence for this one?? How dare the cops talk to a black man in a poor area of the city?? Or How dare the cops defend themselves when someone was shooting a gun at them? Why didn’t they peperspray him when he was shooting his gun or would that have been execive force for the police?

  19. David Maxwell says:

    Now keep a close eye as this cabal of opportunists spin this into a payday. San Francisco, land of the deluded, home of the weak. Now you see why Oscar the thug Grant’s family ended up with big bucks. Rewarded for raising a worthless piece of garbage.

  20. reality says:

    This guy was wanted in Seattle for suspicion of killing a young woman with child. He shot at the police and they shot back. Now people protest the shooting, come on! really! What do you want the police to do, slap him on them hand and say bad boy… so stupid. He was a criminal and was wanted in connection with a murder!

  21. Alice says:

    If he loved his mother, family and was indeed raised in the church, I would hate to see all the crimes he commited if he didn’t love them or wasn’t raised in the chruch.

    He was a convicted child rapist, he was wanted for four murders in Seattle, including a pregnant woman. This was not an innocent kid he was a monster who in my opinion deserved to die and the world and children are much safer without him around.

  22. Survival says:

    I have a feeling this guy shot at the police because he thought his criminal acts in Oregon had resulted in warrants for his arrest. I don’t care what color he is, he was a thug and a dangerous one at that! No matter what evidence, no matter what statements given by witnesses or even the video, [they] still will come up with some conspiracy by the SFPD. The truth hurts too much and gets in the way of hate…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s