New Autopsy Shows SF Cops Shot Man 21 Times, Twice in Head When He Didn’t Threaten Them
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A newly released autopsy confirms that Mario Woods was shot 21 times during a deadly altercation with San Francisco police officers on Dec. 2 last year.
Woods, whose death has sparked protests and a federal review of the city’s police department, was shot twice in the head and six times in the back according to an analysis of the autopsy reported by CNN and its affiliate, KRON-4.
Five officers unloaded their firearms into Woods, a 26-year-old, black man who allegedly stabbed a man earlier in the day before police identified and approached him, first firing beanbag rounds in an attempt to subdue him.
Police Chief Greg Suhr initially said in public statements that Woods had lunged at an officer and refused to drop his weapon before he was shot, though cellphone videos do not show Woods lunging at the officer.
Attorney John Burris, who is representing Woods’ mother, Gwendolyn Woods, in a wrongful death suit against the city, described the autopsy as more proof that officers used excessive force when they shot and killed Woods two months ago.
“The fact is he was shot in the back,” Burris said. “The significance to me is most of the officers who were shooting were not being threatened at the time they fired those weapons.”
The medical examiner’s report states that 27 bullet casings were recovered at the scene and that Woods had THC and methamphetamine in his system when he was shot and killed, according to KRON-4.
The San Francisco Police Department issued a statement on the autopsy report Thursday, stating that the new information “appears to corroborate facts gathered by investigators in the aftermath of this tragic incident.”
“The department is committed to a thorough review of the shooting and this report will be an important component of all three ongoing independent investigations,” the department said in its Feb. 11 statement.
Woods’ death is being investigated by San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, and the city’s Office of Citizen Complaints.
Last month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch a federal investigation into Woods’ death as well. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors went one step further, insisting that the Justice Department also look into the deaths of two other young men of color shot dead by police over the last 18 months.
On Thursday, the city of San Francisco filed an answer to Woods’ family’s wrongful death suit in Federal Court, stating that Wooods “advanced abruptly toward the officers” and refused to drop his knife or surrender.
“Woods told the first officer on the scene that they would have to shoot him before he would drop his knife,” the city stated in its answer.
The city called Woods “an armed and dangerous suspect in a violent felony” that refused repeated orders to disarm and was impervious to “less than lethal forms of force used to subdue him.”
San Francisco police officers were “well within their legal authority” to use lethal force to stop him, the city said in its answer.
Burris called the city’s answer to the lawsuit a standard legal reply that fails to address the most critical issue – whether police violated Woods’ constitutional rights by shooting and killing him without just cause.
“You know you can’t just use deadly force against someone who is not threatening you,” Burris said.
Since Woods’ death, the city has implemented a new policy requiring officers to justify in writing any time they draw their firearm on an individual.
The city is also in the process of revamping its use of force policies and embarking on a voluntary federal review of its police department through the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Published by Courthouse News Service.
Watch the video below: