After meeting with District Attorney George Gascón, advocates for the family of a slain homeless man learned that a decision whether to charge two San Francisco police officers who shot him would come in six to eight weeks.
But recent figures published by an activist organization suggest that the cops might go scot free.
On February 28, Gascón met with friends and family of Luis Góngora Pat to update them on his office’s investigation of the fatal shooting of Góngora Pat at a Mission District encampment in 2016.
Prior to the meeting, the Justice4Luis coalition tracked and compiled data on the 51 officer-involved shootings that happened between 2011, when the former police chief became DA, and 2017. Twenty-two of those shootings resulted in death. Eight of those cases — including that of Góngora Pat — involved homeless people.
In the homeless cases, Gascón’s office apparently hasn’t charged any officers in the shootings, including Jessica Williams’ death in 2016. According to the coalition’s dataset, Williams was sleeping in her car and four months pregnant at the time when police chased her by car; she crashed, then an officer got out of his vehicle and shot her.
That pattern is seemingly also reflected among the housed victims. Overall, there has been a lack of prosecution in similar cases, including the widely reported shootings of Alex Nieto in 2014 and Amilcar Perez-Lopez in 2015. Such prosecutorial inaction gives the police a “100 percent impunity rate,” the Justice4Luis coalition reports. That worries Adriana Camarena, an activist representing the Góngora Pat family.
“Based on George Gascón’s scorecard, the district attorney is guaranteeing police impunity because he has not filed charges in any single case,” she said, adding that there might be no explanation why no officer has been charged during Gascón’s tenure.
Luis Góngora Pat was a Mayan native from Mexican state of Yucatan. After losing a dishwashing job and being evicted from his apartment, he became homeless. On April 7, 2016, SF Homeless Outreach Team members called police to a tent settlement on 18th and Shotwell streets because Góngora Pat was carrying a knife. Less than a half-minute on the scene, two officers started shooting, and Góngora Pat died on the way to the hospital.
Góngora Pat’s family is suing the City and the officers in a federal civil rights case. A trial in October is scheduled.
Some other homeless casualties of SFPD
Randal Phillip Dunklin (Jan. 4, 2011) Dunklin, who moves in a wheelchair and a mental health client, was denied services at Community Behavioral Health Care. Police were called after Dunklin started slashing tires. Police surround him, pepper-sprayed him, shot him with bean bags and then live rounds. Dunklin was charged with — and later acquitted of — stabbing an officer, felony assault and resisting arrest. The DA’s website found no information to determine whether the three officers acted criminally.
Charles Blair Hill (July 3, 2011) Hill was killed by a BART police officer on a station platform. Showing signs of mental illness his time of death, he was shot in the abdomen and left thigh. A year and a half after Oscar Grant’s killing at the hands of BART police, Hill’s shooting generated public protest. Because no SFPD officers were involved, there was no internal affairs investigation. The DA deemed the BART cop’s actions to be lawful.
Unidentified 42-year-old disabled, black man (Aug. 1, 2015) He was walking down the street with crutches in his hand. Under the pretext of conducting a “wellness check,” SFPD officers pinned him down and pressed his face against the “piss-stained” ground, while twisting off his prosthetic leg. The incident involved 14 cops, but it is unknown if SFPD disciplined or the DA charged them.
Jessica Williams (neé Jessica Nelson) (May 19, 2016) She was 29 years old and four months pregnant at the time of her killing. She was sleeping in her car when police startled her, so she drove off. The officers followed her, and she crashed. They shot inside her vehicle, which is against SFPD policy, and she suffered from gunshot wounds to her chest, a graze to her forehead and superficial blunt trauma on the right side of her head. The DA declined to charge the cops.
Source: People’s Police Observatory, a project of the Justice4Luis Coalition