Watch CBS News

Homeless Man With Knife Shot By San Francisco Police Dies

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) --  A man with a knife was shot multiple times by San Francisco police after allegedly charging at officers and has died of his injuries.

The shooting was reported shortly after 10 a.m. in the 400 block of Shotwell Street between 18th and 19th streets.

A homeless outreach team initially reported someone with a large kitchen knife was on Shotwell Street, police Chief Greg Suhr said. Officers responded and tried to subdue the man by shooting less-lethal beanbag rounds at him, Suhr said.

"'Subject did not go down. He got up and charged with the knife.' And that's a quote from the dispatch," said Suhr.

Police tried the bean bag gun several times, but it didn't work.  The situation escalated quickly.

The suspect got up and charged at the officers, who fired at least seven shots at him, Suhr said.

"At 10:04 there's a broadcast. It says - and I quote - 'Challenging one. Has a large kitchen knife.' And the next broadcast is 'shots fired,'" explained Suhr.

The suspect was struck by the gunfire and was taken to San Francisco General Hospital in critical condition. He died of his injuries shortly after surgery at approximately 1 p.m., a hospital spokesperson said.

Friends of the homeless man who was fatally shot told KPIX 5 that the deceased man, Jose, often showed people the knife. One person said Jose had mental problems and trouble containing his temper.

"He carries a knife on him for his safety. Everybody carries something out here for their safety,"" said homeless man and witness John Visor. "He had it up on his side, on his hip. And when he fell and hit the ground, that's when the knife fell out."

Visor and another witness, Stephanie Grant, insist the knife was in his waistband.

"They told him to get down on the ground," said Visor. "He was going in circles. And that's when the sergeant pulled his gun out and opened fire."

Police said the man who was shot had been staying in a nearby alley for a couple of months.

It was only four months ago that a similar situation was caught on camera: the Mario Woods shooting. Chief Suhr said officers have been training to deescalate these types of confrontations.

"We have been working very, very hard to try and figure out ways to contend with folks with edged weapons or other weapons, trying to create time and distance," said Suhr. "And apparently, this event unfolded very quickly. We'll be looking to try and find out why it had to go just as it did."

San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran released a statement Thursday afternoon arguing the officers had made "repeated demands" to the suspect to drop the knife and had to fire when challenged "to protect the public from harm."

Visor said Jose didn't speak English.

"He didn't charge at no officers, he was going in circles because he didn't understand what they were saying," Visor said.

A woman named Smith Patrick said she witnessed the shooting from her window across the street. She told KPIX 5 that she there were two bean bag shots before the officers began shooting with bean bag gun and their service weapons simultaneously.

Smith also said the man stumbled and recoiled from the gunfire as he was struck by the bullets.

Supervisor David Campos responded to the reports on Twitter.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said that in addition to the police and District Attorney's Office investigations he has asked the Office of Citizen Complaints to investigate the shooting.

Protesters took to San Francisco's Mission Street Thursday night in reaction to the fatal shooting.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.