Public Sees First San Francisco Officer-Involved Shooting Caught On Body Cam
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Public Defender Jeff Adachi released officer body camera footage Wednesday of a police shooting in San Francisco's Ocean View neighborhood and called upon the District Attorney's Office to drop charges against the suspect, Sean Moore.
Adachi said the video contradicted police accounts that Moore, who family members have described as mentally ill, was advancing on officers at the time he was shot on the front steps of his home in the 500 block of Capitol Avenue around 4 a.m. on Jan. 6.
Police have said Moore kicked an officer in the face during an initial confrontation that led to his being pepper sprayed. He then allegedly retreated back into the house, came back out and punched an officer who was wielding a baton in the face before advancing on Officer Kenneth Cha, who opened fire.
The shooting was the first such incident since San Francisco police rolled out body-worn cameras to officers.
The videos released Wednesday show Moore responding angrily to officers, repeatedly shouting at them to "get the f*** off my stairs" and using derogatory language.
However, Adachi said they also show that he was trying to avoid the baton strikes and retreat back into the house at the time he was shot.
"We feel that the video clearly demonstrates that the police version put forward was incorrect," Adachi said.
Adachi argued the officers should have deescalated the situation by retreating when it became clear that Moore was combative and calling in support from the Crisis Intervention Team, which is trained in handling mentally ill subjects and other tense situations.
"This is a situation where everyone could have and should have gone home safe," Adachi said.
Acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin defended his officers, saying they had followed department policies in attempting to deescalate the situation and were attacked by Moore, who was larger than them and had the
advantage of higher ground.
"The footage shows that they were in fact assaulted by the subject," Chaplin said.
Given that the officers at one point thought Moore had "something in his hand," Chaplin said they had shown "great restraint."
"They did not default to gun, they used pepper spray and baton," he said. "They took time to evaluate before resorting to the firearm."
Moore's mother, Cleo Moore, said her son had a history of mental illness but the family has struggled to get him care since he is an adult.
"If crisis intervention had responded or someone who is knowledgeable in taking care of the person who is mentally ill... it would not have happened this way," Cleo Moore said Wednesday. "My son is not a vicious person, he's just struggling every day with mental illness."
Chaplin said he did not know if the officers were aware Moore had a history of mental illness, but noted that officers often do not have that sort of information when responding to a call.
Moore was shot in the groin and abdomen and has undergone two surgeries, but is now in stable condition, according to Adachi.
He was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges including criminal threats, threats against an officer, assault and battery on an officer and resisting arrest.
He remains in custody with bail set at $2 million and is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 26.
The San Francisco District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the release of the video Wednesday, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
In the video, you hear the shots fired, but don't see the actual shooting.
Still, the video is difficult to watch and Adachi says it shows officers did not follow the department's new de-escalation tactics.
The video starts with Moore shouting obscenities at officers telling them to get off the steps of his home. Police were responding to a noise complaint in the neighborhood.
At one point, officers used pepper spray on Moore before retreating down the stairs. But a few minutes later, Moore walks out the front door and towards the officers who are telling him to get on the ground.
That's when a fight breaks out and Officer Cha shoots Moore twice.
"This is a situation where Mr. Moore did not have to be shot. And the officers, had they properly used deescalation techniques, they would have gone home. And we wouldn't be talking about this incident right now," Adachi said.
Police released photos of the officers bruised and bleeding after the incident. Police say the officer fired two shots when they were not able to subdue Moore using pepper spray and batons.
"There have been some allegations that the officers were not assaulted in this incident. This footage shows that they were in fact assaulted by the suspect," Chaplin said.
This is the first time we've seen a shooting through San Francisco police body cams and it will no doubt renew a debate about use of force.
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