As San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr prepares to hold a community meeting to discuss Wednesday's fatal officer-involved shooting in the Bayview neighborhood, the woman who represents the district on the Board of Supervisors says it's time for the department to find a "more humane" approach to policing.
In an incident caught on video by at least three bystanders, officers shot and killed Mario Woods, 26, late Wednesday afternoon.
Police say Woods matched the description of a suspect in a stabbing late Wednesday afternoon and was armed with a knife. A group of eight or more officers confronted Woods about six blocks from the stabbing scene. According to the department, five officers opened fire when Woods refused to drop the knife and after efforts to disable him with less than lethal beanbag rounds and pepper spray failed.
Supervisor Malia Cohen, whose District 10 includes the Bayview, said she sees a connection between Woods' killing and controversial officer-involved shootings elsewhere.
“Over the last year or so, we've seen a tremendous number of horrific events where police officers have killed or seriously injured young -- frankly, mostly African-American and other minority men -- and it's really unfortunate that we have an example right here in our own community," Cohen said.
She said incidents like the Woods killing demonstrate a need to approach policing differently.
“I would say there has to be a better way. We have to find a more humane way to police communities," Cohen said.
That would include police practice and training policies designed to increase community trust in officers. And she said more transparency is needed, too.
Earlier this year, Cohen sponsored a measure that requires the Police Department and the San Francisco Sheriff's Department to report the race, age and gender of all those stopped in traffic or detained, as well as the outcome of the encounter. The first of those reports is due in May.
In the more immediate future, Cohen is urging a measured community response to the Woods shooting.
“I want people to be able to grieve and grieve openly," she said. "But I'd like them to do it in a peaceful, nonviolent way.”
"As you can imagine, community folks are heartbroken. They want justice. They have lots of questions, and they want to see some level of change" in the treatment of communities of color by police and the justice system.
Suhr's planned "town hall meeting" to discuss the Woods case will provide a barometer of the community's response. The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. at San Francisco City College's Southeast Campus, 1800 Oakdale Ave.
Per standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting, the Woods case will be investigated by the Police Department's homicide and internal affairs divisions, the district attorney and the Office of Citizen Complaints.