San Francisco protesters decry police shooting

Posted at 8:31 AM, Dec 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-12 08:31:02-05

(CNN) -- San Francisco's police chief is the latest public official facing angry calls for his job in the aftermath of a fatal shooting by police that was captured on video.

Protesters packed City Hall on Wednesday night, calling for Police Chief Greg Suhr to step down and murder charges be filed in the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old black man.

During five hours of heated public commentary, speakers walked to a microphone at a police commission hearing about the December 2 death of Mario Woods and blasted Suhr.

"Mario Woods was a human being and you sit back there and check off boxes and you just file papers away and you forget that these people are human beings," one woman said, according to CNN affiliates.

"You make $300,000," one man yelled. "That's preposterous for being a killer. That's our money paying you to be a killer."

What's in the videos

In three cell phone videos, which are swirling around social media, a barrage of gunfire reverberates in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco as a man, surrounded by a sea of police officers, is gunned down.

During the gun blasts, a woman can be heard screaming "Oh my God" as the suspect in a dark coat and light pants falls to the ground.

Earlier in the video, taken from what looks like a city bus, the same voice can be heard shouting "drop it," seemingly alluding to a knife.

In a statement, San Francisco police laid out their version of events, saying officers first confronted Woods because a witness identified him as the attacker in a stabbing earlier in the afternoon. Police said he refused numerous demands to drop the knife and was a danger to others.

"He did not drop the weapon," the police chief said. "The suspect had already shown 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."

Despite bring struck with police bean bag rounds and pepper spray, Woods, still armed with a knife, attempted to walk away. An officer moved to block him from fleeing, police said. Woods moved toward the officer. "At this point, fearing serious injury or death, officers fired their department handguns at the suspect," police said.

The police news release said officers performed CPR before the paramedics arrived.

It is not clear how many officers fired their weapons, but many rounds could be heard in the videotapes.

Three investigations are underway. Five officers are on administrative leave, Sgt. Michael Andraychak said Friday. They are Winson Seto, Antonio Santos, Charles August, Nicholas Cuevas, Scott Phillips. All are patrol officers.

Mayor: Lethal force should be last resort

But the police account has failed to win unwavering support from Mayor Edwin Lee.

"Black lives do matter and as mayor, I commit we will take all necessary steps to prevent these kinds of incidents when at all possible," Lee told reporters.

Lee said in a statement that the video is upsetting and raised questions. "We owe all San Francisco, communities of color, and the Woods family, a full and transparent investigation without delay."

The mayor said he ordered Suhr to issue procedures to resolve situations "with the minimum use of force." He said lethal force should be used as the "last resort."

Suhr, during the police commission session, stressed he wanted his officers to have access to disabling weapons other than guns, and he described a nonlethal arrest in England using a stun gun. San Francisco police are not issued stun guns.

Protesters outside chanted "no justice no peace" as a row of candles flickered at City Hall steps.

Inside, an inflamed speaker sounded off at San Francisco police.

"I'm not going to come in here and ask for justice. I'm going to tell you justice is coming for you!"

Cases in the spotlight nationwide

The San Francisco video is just one of several that have come to light showing police killing suspects. A suspect in an attempted bank robbery in Miami Beach, Florida, earlier this month was killed by officers.

In other cases, police officers were prosecuted when fatal shootings were caught on video.

In Chicago, an officer was recently charged with murder in the 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald. The dashcam video was not publicly released for more than a year, causing public anger. The city's police superintendent stepped down and some people are urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign.

In South Carolina, video showed a North Charleston police officer shooting Walter Scott in the back when he tried to run during a traffic stop in April. That officer was charged with murder and the city reached a $6.5 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by his family.

In another Chicago case, prosecutors this week said no criminal charges will be filed against an officer who shot and killed Ronald Johnson, who was armed with a loaded gun.

CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian, Ralph Ellis, Ashley Fantz and Phil Gast contributed to this report

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