Anger erupts over police shootings - Page 2

Two recent officer-involved shootings spark protests throughout San Francisco

|
(11)
Police Chief Greg Suhr (left) and Elvira Pollard, mother of another police shooting victim, speak at the July 20 meeting
GUARDIAN PHOTOS BY REBECCA BOWE

At the meeting, Police Chief Greg Suhr tried to provide an explanation for the July 16 shooting. "During this foot pursuit, at some point in time, the suspect ... fired at the officers, and the officers returned fire. This is the account that we have so far," he said. "I cannot tell you how badly that I feel ... as captain of this station for two years," Suhr continued, as an angry crowd shouted him down.

Police escorted Suhr out of the meeting before everyone who had signed up to speak had a chance to be heard. Once outside, the police chief told reporters that he planned to return.

After Suhr and other city officials departed from the meeting, District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen stayed at the Bayview Opera House and addressed the crowd that remained, she later told the Guardian, and engaged in discussion with Bayview homeowners, merchants, and other community stakeholders.

"We had a very thoughtful conversation," she said. "People had questions about [Municipal Transportation Agency] policy over the SFPD riding the bus. We talked about the importance of attending Board of Supervisors meetings, Police Commission meetings, and giving public comment. And there will be future conversations, without obstruction."

Many who attended the meeting voiced concerns that went well beyond the July 16 incident. Several said they believed youth were unduly harassed by law enforcement over Muni fares on a regular basis. Elvira Pollard spoke about how her son was shot 36 times by police and killed seven years ago. Another woman complained that police had used abusive language when she was arrested in the Bayview four years ago.

Mayor Ed Lee told the Guardian that a bigger police presence at the Oakdale/Palou stop on the T-Third line was part of the city's strategy to prevent violence in that area. "I actually asked the chief to pay more attention to areas that had a history of gun violence and shootings and other kinds of violence ... and it just so happens that this particular area, Third and Palou, is a place where there's a lot of violence," Lee said. "So we had more uniformed officers on that specifically at not only my request, but with the understanding of the police chief, too."

Responding to acts of violence by sending in more police sounds simple enough, yet it seems a toxic environment has arisen out of a heightened police presence in a community where tensions between police and residents already run high, fueled by anxiety and bad past experiences. Add to this dynamic a trend of youth who lack other transportation alternatives riding public transit even if they don't have enough money to pay the fare, and the situation feeds ongoing strife, particularly when fare evaders are asked for identification and searched by police.

Lee, in partnership with Cohen, called a meeting in City Hall July 19 with leaders of the Bayview community. The press was not allowed to attend, but participants said later that officials gave a presentation about the shooting and played an audio of gunfire from the SFPD's SpotShotter program to offer evidence that Harding had fired first. Later that day, the SFPD reported that gunshot residue had been detected on Harding's hand, supporting the police account of what happened. Yet the July 21 press release, suggesting that Harding had shot himself because a .380-caliber bullet that police said could not have come from SFPD firearms had entered the right side of Harding's neck, made it even less clear what really happened.

Comments

This is excellently written and well researched. It is a very sensitive perspective. I would like to point out, however, that Kenneth Harding was declared dead at the San Francisco General Hospital, were I trained in trauma neurosurgery, at 7pm on July 16, 2011. He was not dead when he lay on the street face down in a pool of his own blood, arching his neck back to breathe and kicking his legs! The blurred video image of the gun an unidentified witness posted on youtube was at least 25 feet away from his mortally injured body. Could he have run that far...or farther with a .038 bullet lodged in the inner table of the right side of his skull???

Posted by GuestAhimsa Porter Sumchai MD on Jul. 27, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

Amy Hart, M.D., the San Francisco Medical Examiner has not...and will not issue an official cause of death because Kenneth Harding, Jr. died of hemorrhagic shock and medical negligence at the San Francisco General Hospital. He was declared dead at 7pm. He was witnessed being shot at 4:40pm.

Posted by GuestAhimsa Porter Sumchai MD on Jul. 27, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

What a poster child for "police violence." A felon who either killed himself or someone else (NOT the police) shot.

Really can't seem to muster up any tears for dead sex traffickers transitioning to "independent rappers."

Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jul. 27, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

I couldn't agree with you more Lucretia. Well said.

Posted by Exacto on Jul. 29, 2011 @ 3:54 am

your tears should be for the unjustified actions of the police who let the man fester in his own blood. The didn't run a background check on him before firing rounds at him and chasing him down. This could have been anybody they are hunting Black Male Youth criminals or not. This is an ongoing problem with officers.
When the police are above the law and street sweeping with their guns and unmarked guns that is a problem. Where did the .38 come from again, watch the video.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 09, 2011 @ 10:24 am

There are many ways to spin this, and it is your right to report it any way you want, Rebecca, but at the late date of July 27, 11 days on, we would expect you to have the basic facts right. Saying Harding was shot "multiple times" is simply wrong, unless you have some secret information.

The medical examiner says he was shot once in the leg by police. Do you think the medical examiner is part of a cover up? If so, fine, but report that--with some, even meager, evidence to support it. Otherwise, you are just printing misinformation.

This kind of reporting hurts the credibility of the SFBG, and the cause of liberalism.

--Dana

Posted by Dana on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 7:44 am

Hey Dana, thanks for reading. SFPD SpotShotter data revealed that there were nine rounds fired; police have explained this by stating that they believe Harding fired the first round, followed by eight rounds fired by police. A spokesperson from SFPD media relations confirmed to me last week that this was also his understanding of what that data revealed.Therefore the current understanding is that SFPD shot at him eight times, with just one bullet striking him in the leg. At the time I was writing this story this information was not as clear as I did not have much of an opportunity to process the info. from the July 21 press release or speak with the SFPD and medical examiner due to deadline constraints, but more up-to-date information has since been published on our Politics Blog. Your critique has some merit in that it might have been more accurate to say that police shot AT Harding multiple times.

Posted by rebecca on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

For God's sake - you people are pathetic losers. The man was on parole from Washington State for two felonies, one of which was for raping a child. He had just recently shot and killed one person and had wounded several others in Seattle while he was out on parole, and he came to San Francisco on the run from cops up there. There was gunshot residue on his hands and police say that he was shooting over his shoulder while he was running from them and accidentally shot himself. Yeah - lets cry him a river.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

perhaps you didn't realize that.

"For God's sake - you people are pathetic losers. The man was on parole from Washington State for two felonies, one of which was for raping a child. He had just recently shot and killed one person and had wounded several others in Seattle while he was out on parole, and he came to San Francisco on the run from cops up there. There was gunshot residue on his hands and police say that he was shooting over his shoulder while he was running from them and accidentally shot himself. Yeah - lets cry him a river."

Posted by RamRod on Aug. 17, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

you can kiss my ass, there is no way the cops knew that shit before they cut him in half, so get it straight asshole they killed him because he ran from paying a bus fare and thats all there is to it. there are 4-5 videos from all different angles and not one of them shows a gun and not one of them shows him shooting at the cops. So take your fucking soap box and get the fuck out of here

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

u have a definite problem-there is no evidence he was nearly cut in half!! he was shot once in the leg!! get a grip on urself-ur the reason nobody pays any attention anymore to these situations-ur just a trouble maker.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

Also from this author

  • Police provide explanation of Bernal Heights Park shooting at emotional town hall meeting

  • San Francisco's untouchables

    Is San Francisco trying to help the homeless -- or drive them away?

  • Draining the tank

    Students push UC system to divest from fossil fuels, joining an international movement gathering soon in San Francisco