February 1, 2016
The U.S. Department of Justice said on Sunday it was set to announce a “comprehensive review” of the San Francisco Police Department, which has been the target of protests after a black man was shot and killed by police in December.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Brian Stretch and Ronald Davis, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Director, will hold a news conference in San Francisco on Monday afternoon, according to the statement, which gave no details about the nature or reason for the investigation.
San Francisco’s Mayor Edwin Lee and police Chief Greg Suhr were also slated to attend the news conference, the Justice Department statement said.
The San Francisco police shooting on Dec. 2 was one in a wave of police killings — most often of young men who are minorities by white officers — that entered widespread awareness with the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown was unarmed at the time. His death triggered a wave of protests in Ferguson that spread throughout the country and sparked a renewed civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter.
Protests broke out in San Francisco last month over the police killing of 26-year-old Mario Woods. Protesters have rallied against Suhr numerous times over Woods death, which was captured on camera by bystanders. Police say only one of the five officers involved was white, but protests over the shooting persist. The latest, on Saturday, ended with about 100 people protesting inside the area set aside for Super Bowl gatherings.
Suhr said Woods, who was a suspect in a stabbing, was a threat to officers. He has called for equipping his police force with Tasers to prevent similar shootings in the future.
Woods’ family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city in December, and Lee has requested a federal investigation of the shooting. Woods family has also called for a federal probe.
An attorney for Woods’ family welcomed the review.
“It is the right and decent thing to do and a step in the right direction toward healing in the African American and Latino communities,” attorney John Burris said in a statement.
The soaring epidemic of police murders in the U.S. reached 1,134 in 2015, of these young Black men were 9 times more likely to be killed by police than a white person. One of those killed was Mario Woods shot 26 times up close by 5 San Francisco police officers. A growing protest movement, led by the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition, has called for the resignation of the San Francisco Chief of Police and is a big reason why the U.S. Department of Justice was forced to announce the investigation covered in this article. All of this comes at a bad time for the city government that is trying to sanitize San Francisco by moving out thousands of homeless people during the Super Bowl events taking place this week.