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San Francisco to Pay $400,000 to Settle Lawsuit Over Police Killing of Mario Woods

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Mario Woods' mother Gwendolyn Woods speaks at a press conference on May 29, 2018, a few days after the San Francisco District Attorney declined to file criminal charges against five SFPD officers who shot and killed her son in 2015. (Alex Emslie/KQED)

The mother of a black man shot to death by five San Francisco police officers in 2015 is set to receive $400,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Dec. 2, 2015, shooting of Mario Woods was captured by bystanders recording with cell phone cameras from multiple angles. It led to a federal review of SFPD tactics and the eventual resignation of former Police Chief Greg Suhr. A last-minute settlement was reached in March of this year, just a few days before the federal lawsuit brought by Woods' mother Gwendolyn Woods was set to go to trial.

The Mario Woods Case

The settlement amount was disclosed Monday in a city Board of Supervisors agenda, and it must be approved by vote of the board before it is finalized.

Mario Woods, 26, had allegedly fought with and stabbed another man, Marcel Gardener, in the arm earlier in the day. Gardener drove himself to the hospital, according to his deposition in the civil case, and he reluctantly described Woods to a sheriff's deputy there.

SFPD officers Charles August and Brandon Thompson found Woods waiting at a bus stop on 3rd Street in the city's Bayview District shortly after 4 p.m., and Woods pulled his knife, according to the officers' depositions.

Woods walked away but was soon surrounded by a semi-circle of approximately nine SFPD officers with guns drawn, his back against a wall. That's the beginning of the multiple videos of the shooting.

Officers shouted dozens of commands for Woods to drop the knife. Two officers fired beanbag rounds and rubber bullets. Another officer stepped into the half-circle and tried to pepper spray Woods.


When Woods started to walk along the wall, August stepped into his path. In his deposition, August said he heard Woods repeat the words "You're going to have to shoot me" before he and officers Winson Seto, Nicholas Cuevas, Scott Phillips and Antonio Santos opened fire.

Woods was shot 20 times and likely grazed once, according to the medical examiner's report on his death. He had methamphetamine and other drugs in his system.

District Attorney George Gascón called Woods' killing "disturbing" and "unnecessary" but declined to file criminal charges against the shooting officers in May 2018.

Gwendolyn Woods said at the time that it was like Gascón had "executed him all over again."

"They saw him as nothing or nobody, or that nobody loved him," Gwendolyn Woods said a few days after the district attorney's decision. "Let me tell you, I loved that kid and he was worth me fighting for. He was the best of me."

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