SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — Police in San Francisco on Thursday released more details surrounding an officer-involved shooting last week in the city’s South Beach neighborhood that SFPD Chief Bill Scott denounced as unnecessary.
The incident left a 23-year-old auto burglary suspect injured.READ MORE: University of California Sets Rules for Affiliations With Religious Hospitals
“The shooting of Mr. Pittman, quite simply, should not have happened,” Scott said during a Town Hall meeting on Thursday. “I want to say to Mr. Pittman and his friends and family that I’m deeply sorry that Mr. Pittman was shot during this incident.”
The shooting happened May 7 at about 12:45 p.m. near the corner of Varney Place and Jack London Alley as plainclothes officers sought auto burglary suspects who allegedly burglarized at least five vehicles earlier that, police said.
The investigation first began around 11:45 a.m. when witnesses reported to police a group of suspects inside an SUV, described as silver Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, breaking into another vehicle in Golden Gate Park. The suspects allegedly broke a vehicle’s window and stole bags from within before fleeing the scene in the Mitsubishi, according to police.
Officers with the U.S. Park Police then spotted the Mitsubishi and tried to pull it over, but the suspect vehicle accelerated and sped off, prompting the officers to notify nearby plainclothes officers with the San Francisco Police Department.
Less than 10 minutes later, a witness reported seeing a suspect from the Mitsubishi hop out near the corner of Leavenworth and Jefferson street and break into another vehicle and retrieve a purse and bag. The suspect got back into the Mitsubishi, which then sped off.
Ten minutes after that, a separate witness reported to police seeing the same Mitsubishi near Pier 35. Again, a suspect got out and broke into a vehicle, took luggage and then fled in the suspect vehicle.
Fifteen minutes later, around 12:35 p.m., two plainclothes officers caught up with the Mitsubishi as it was headed south on Embarcadero near Washington Street. Although the officers briefly lost sight of the suspect vehicle, they then saw the suspects removing bags from a parked vehicle near Washington and Drumm streets before driving off.
Again, the officers lost sight of the Mitsubishi, but caught up with it after seeing the suspects removing bags from another vehicle along The Embarcadero, police said.
The officers finally caught up with the Mitsubishi near Jack London Alley and Varney Place, as two of the occupants were out of the vehicle and appeared to be going through the items they’d taken, police said.
With their guns drawn, the officers ran toward one of the suspects, who was unarmed and wore a black ski mask, and tried to place him under arrest. As an officer tried to arrest him, both the suspect and the officer fell to the ground, at which point the officer’s gun went off and struck the suspect in his left wrist.READ MORE: Oakland City Council Votes to Defund Police, Stripping More Than $17M from Department Budget
At that point, the Mitsubishi fled the scene with at least two other occupants.
The suspect who was shot has been identified as Xavier Pittman. Pittman was treated for his injuries and has since been arrested on suspicion of auto burglary, conspiracy, possession of stolen property and for committing a felony while on supervised released, according to police.
The officer who shot Pittman has been identified as Ofc. Zachary McAuliffe, police said.
At the scene of the shooting, investigators were able to recover a large amount of stolen property related to the prior auto burglaries.
Although the other suspects in the Mitsubishi have yet to be arrested, the Mitsubishi was later recovered, unoccupied, in Oakland.
Both McAuliffe and the other plainclothes officer were not wearing body-worn cameras, as the Police Department exempts plainclothes officers conducting certain investigations, police said.
The shooting, however, was captured on video surveillance cameras, which can be seen online.
Speaking for McAuliffe, Scott said, “He did not intend for his gun to go off and he sincerely apologizes to Mr. Pittman and wishes Mr. Pittman a full and speedy recovery.”
Moving forward, Scott said for now, he’s directed the department to cease plainclothes operations while police regarding such operations are being reviewed. Additionally, he said, the department is revisiting it’s body-worn camera policies for plainclothes officers, with department leaders set to make recommendations regarding the matter for the Police Commission to review.
The officer-involved shooting remains under investigation, with several city departments conducting separate investigations, including the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Police Accountability and the San Francisco Police Department’s Internal Affairs Department.MORE NEWS: Firefighters at Scene of Morgan Hill Gas Leak; Some Evacuations Ordered
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