San Francisco Chronicle


SF police shooting of wheelchair user questioned

An officer examines the scene where police shot a man in a wheelchair who had allegedly stabbed an officer Tuesday.

Use-of-force experts who viewed the video recording of San Francisco police shooting a man in a wheelchair questioned why officers moved dangerously close to the knife-wielding suspect and said an electronic Taser would have been the ideal weapon to use in that confrontation.

Tuesday's shooting outside the city's Department of Public Health building on 10th and Howard Streets occurred moments after officers responded to a 10:18 a.m. report of an agitated man puncturing car tires.

Police Chief George Gascón said the suspect, who remains at San Francisco General Hospital recovering from non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, had stabbed a responding officer in the upper left shoulder before a passer-by began video-recording the incident. Gascón also said officers used pepper spray on the man in a failed attempt to subdue him before the video started.

David Klinger, an expert on police use of force and an associate professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, cautioned that the video offers a two-dimensional glimpse of the incident and that it remains only "one piece of the investigation."

Yet Klinger, a former Los Angeles patrol officer, also wondered why officers closed in on a man who had already stabbed one of their own and continued to behave erratically.

"Given that officers are trained to give distance between themselves with suspects who are armed and dangerous, at first blush I'd want to know why they were getting in that close," Klinger said.