SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Police revealed Tuesday that the man officers shot on Market Street last week reportedly committed arson before the shooting and refused to drop a large knife he was wielding while confronting police.
Investigators said that 26-year-old Antonio Estrada started a fire at an apartment on the afternoon of Nov. 17, and fought with three unknown men before engaging police with a knife and a frying pan. Multiple officers shot Estrada with department-issued firearms and non-lethal projectiles, leading him to be hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
At a virtual town hall held Tuesday afternoon, Cmdr. Robert O’Sullivan provided a timeline of events that preceded the officer-involved shooting of Estrada. The department also provided dispatch calls and video of the incidents.
According to O’Sullivan, the incident began around 3:46 p.m., when SFPD dispatch received reports of a fire on the 400 block of Ellis Street.
Two witnesses went to Estrada’s apartment after smelling the odor of gasoline coming from there. As they approached the apartment, Estrada ran out holding a frying pan and a screwdriver.
“As Mr. Estrada held the frying pan in his hand, one of the witnesses noticed that the cooking surface of the pan was on fire,” O’Sullivan said.
Once outside his apartment, Mr. Estrada poured gasoline from a red gas canister onto the hallway floor. Estrada then bent down and dropped an unknown object, which ignited the gas. Estrada then left the building as the hallway lit up with flames.
SFFD arrived on scene not long after and extinguished the fire. Police from Tenderloin station and the arson task force also arrived. First responders discovered Estrada’s red gas can in the hallway and his apartment door was still open.
“They observed that the Inside of the apartment was charred and they smelled the distinct odor of gasoline coming from the room,” O’Sullivan said.
Surveillance footage from a nearby camera captured an explosion at Estrada’s apartment as well as footage of him holding a large knife and frying pan. Though officers had an image of him, they were unable to find him at the time so soon after the incident.
Later at 5:09 p.m., dispatch received multiple 911 calls about male subjects fighting in the street around 5th and Market streets.
“One of the subjects was reported to be carrying a large knife and a frying pan,” O’Sullivan said.
At the virtual town hall, the police played cellphone video footage showing Estrada standing in the street, holding the frying pan and the knife with an “overhanded, or stabbing grip.” Then he was surrounded by three males — one had a closed umbrella, another had “what appeared to be a camping chair,” and both were swinging their respective objects at Estrada.
Estrada fought back at the men with his knife and frying pan, and the footage shows him chasing the man with an umbrella, stabbing at him from behind.
Officers arrived at the scene of the melee around 5:12 p.m. One officer had a shotgun, the other had his department-issued firearm.
“Officers immediately ordered Mr. Estrada to drop the knife, however he refused to comply with their multiple commands,” O’ Sullivan said.
After multiple commands to drop the knife, Estrada responded with “F– You” and walked away from the scene. Officers then shot non-lethal projectiles at Estrada — bean bags and foam — but they proved ineffective. Estrada then made his way towards one officer when the other opened fire.
Wounded and kneeling on the ground, Estrada refused to drop his knife despite multiple commands. Officers attempted to fell him with non-lethal projectiles and pepper spray when Estrada tried to stand up.
At one point, Estrada laid down on his side but he did not drop his knife until officers snuck behind and tased him. Officers took him into custody then, eight minutes after they arrived on scene.
Estrada faces several charges, including arson, exhibition of a deadly weapon, resisting a peace officer and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, according to police.
O’Sullivan also named the officers believed to be the ones who shot Estrada — Joseph Toomey and Ryan Thompson. He also noted that the investigation was far from over.
“Still in the middle of an investigation that could take months to complete and our understanding of the incident may change as evidence is collected and reviewed,” O’Sullivan said.
The virtual town hall came one day after San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed homicide charges against a former police officer for his involvement in the fatal shooting of an unarmed carjacking suspect in 2017.
Before Tuesday’s town hall, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott informed the public that the reasoning behind releasing all the video and information about the shooting of Estrada was “transparency.”
“First and foremost, tonight is about transparency. It is our intention to release the known facts in this incident in a non-judgemental way,” Scott said. “We recognize the traumatic impact officer-involved shootings have on our communities at large.”