SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco Police Department Friday released the names of the five officers involved in the controversial fatal shooting last week of 26-year-old Mario Woods.
The officers who fired their weapons in the Dec. 2 shooting are Winson Seto, Antonio Santos, Charles August, Nicholas Cuevas and Scott Phillips, according to police.
Attorney John Burris filed a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit in federal court Friday on behalf of the family of Mario Woods, claiming that the five San Francisco police officers who opened fire on Woods causing roughly 20 gunshot wounds to his body last week used excessive force.
Burris gathered with the Woods’ family and friends, as well as members of the community and the media Friday, to show a third and previously unreleased video that captured a different angle of the fatal shooting of the 26-year-old San Francisco resident.
Burris’ office has called the shooting of Woods an “unnecessary and tragic death at the hands of the San Francisco Police Department.” He said it is similar to the recent police shooting deaths of La Quan MacDonald and Ron Johnson in Chicago, who were both shot in the back while moving away from police.
Police have said Woods was armed with a kitchen knife at the time of the shooting and is suspected of stabbing a person earlier that day. Chief Suhr has defended the use of force, saying the video shows Woods raising the hand holding the knife toward officers.
Gwen Woods, the mother of Mario Woods, sat sobbing with family members and friends Friday as Burris and his colleagues presented the graphic videos along with new photos of Woods’ body taken post-mortem.
While two videos were quickly posted on social media following Woods’ death on Dec. 2, the new video released Friday by Burris’ office comes from “a confidential source” and had not been handed over to police investigators as of this afternoon. It appears to contradict San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr’s account of what happened on that day.
Burris showed members of the public that when the video and audio in the newly released footage is slowed down, it appears that the first shot was fired prior to Woods raising his arm.
Suhr has said publicly that Woods raised his arm holding a knife in an aggressive manner prior to officers opening fire.
Burris said that because the evidence contradicts what Suhr said, his credibility is being called into question and that the community deserves better.
“You should resign,” Burris said in a comment directed at Chief Suhr today.
Burris said not only did Suhr try to make it seem like Woods “got what he deserved because he started it,” but that the chief used a screen shot of Woods raising his arm to justify the shooting. Burris and his colleagues said that that screen shot came after the first round was fired, not before.
Burris also said the knife is not visible in the videos and that Woods may have even been the wrong suspect.
Police said a stabbing victim had arrived at a hospital earlier that day and that based on a suspect description provided by the victim and a witness, officers saw Woods in the area and identified him as a suspect.
Burris said the lawsuit aims to prove that what happened to Woods was unlawful and also aims to change any policies carried out by the Police Department that are found to be unconstitutional.
He said he hopes the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office or the U.S. Attorney’s Office file criminal charges against the five, as of yet unnamed, officers who opened fire on Woods. He said those officers should be indicted.
The Police Department has said it will make those officers’ names available by Saturday afternoon, 10 days after Woods death, but as of this afternoon the department had not done so.
Following her son’s death, Gwen Woods attended a vigil at the scene where he was killed, at the intersection of Fitzgerald Avenue and Keith Street, just off Third Street.
At the vigil, Gwen Woods said her son was a good man who had a high school diploma and had just gotten a job at UPS.
Gwen Woods said Friday of her son that, “He was the best of me and he redeemed himself.”
Hundreds of people gathered at the vigil and subsequent rallies in the days after Woods’ death.
A walkout held Friday to demand justice for Woods brought out over a hundred community members, who marched from 16th and Mission streets to City Hall.
Some of those who participated in the rally Friday demanded that Suhr be fired, that the mayor’s office pay for Woods’ funeral, and that the officers involved in the shooting be fired and charged with murder, among other demands.
Burris said Friday that the “shooting gallery” that was Woods’ death was “outrageous” and described Woods as a man with a slight build who appeared in the videos to be “relatively helpless.”
The gunshot wounds to Woods’ body, Burris said, show that he was shot in the back of his head, as well as in the front and back of his body by “a hail of bullets.”
Burris said Woods’ death is an “affront and insult to the African American community” in San Francisco and that everyone should know what happened to Woods in order for it not to happen again.
Attorney Adante Pointer, who is representing Gwen Woods as well, compared the Police Department’s “smear campaign” of Woods to that created following the death of Alex Nieto, who was armed with a Taser when four police officers shot and killed him atop Bernal Hill in March 2014.
Pointer and Burris alleged that in both cases, the Police Department “demonized” the victims in an effort to make the public not care about their deaths.
Woods’ death is one of numerous controversies involving the Police Department, including racist text messages exchanged by officers uncovered during a federal investigation that found San Francisco police officers guilty of stealing from victims at single-room occupancy hotels in the city.
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