they got the man cornered, couldn't they tase him?
San Francisco police shot and killed a suspected stabber in the Bayview District late Wednesday afternoon after the man approached an officer while holding a knife, police said.
The shooting, which authorities said occurred on Keith Street after officers tried and failed to subdue the man with nonlethal beanbags, was recorded by someone on a Muni bus who posted the video to Instagram.
Police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters that the video confirmed the suspect “does have the knife in his hand and he does move toward officers.”
But San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, after watching the same video, said it appeared that “the person was not posing a direct threat and certainly did not have to be shot.”
The video shows the man up against a building gesturing as armed officers surround him. A bystander can be heard shouting, “Just drop it!” The man, his hands at his sides, is seen walking away from at least four officers but toward one officer, who steps in his path, walking backward with his gun drawn.
Moments later the camera turns away as the first of at least 15 shots ring out. The camera does not capture the man’s last movements.
Police went to the neighborhood about 4:20 p.m. after a man told them he had been stabbed in the shoulder about half an hour earlier on the 6600 block of Third Street by an assailant who was still in the area, police said.
Officers said they found the suspect nearby on the 2900 block of Keith Street, holding what appeared to be a six- to eight-inch kitchen knife. At least five officers surrounded him at gunpoint and ordered him to drop the knife, Suhr said.
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Police first shot the man with lead-filled beanbag pellets, and he fell but then rose again, the chief said. With the officers surrounding him, Suhr said, the man approached one officer, still holding the knife, and was shot at 4:35 p.m. He said five officers opened fire.
Officers summoned paramedics and tried to revive the man, but he died at the scene, Suhr said. The man was not immediately identified.
Suhr said he did did not know how many shots were fired, but the suspect “had already demonstrated, by committing a felony aggravated assault, that he was a danger to others, so he could not be allowed to move away from the scene.”
The police chief said the officers’ account of the shooting was supported by witnesses on the bus and by the video.
Video segments “appear to show the officers encircled and they appear to show the suspect moving toward the one officer before the shots were fired,” Suhr said.
Adachi, however, told reporters that the footage he saw did not show a need for deadly force.
“It does not look like the officer who fired the fatal shots was in immediate danger of being killed,” the public defender said. He said it appeared the officer “can move back and at least order the person to the ground or use some other sort of defensive maneuver, rather than using a gun and shooting him point-blank.”
San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Bob Egelko contributed to this report.
Jenna Lyons and Vivian Ho are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com Twitter: @JennaJourno and @VivianHo
Edited by DMan14 - 12/3/15 at 10:48am