Brother walks ABC7 through police shooting scene

Brother walks ABC7 through police shooting scene

December 31, 2010 1:17:18 AM PST
San Francisco police are defending themselves over a fatal shooting. Officers opened fire Wednesday night after being called to a possible stabbing at a home in the Portola District.

A town hall meeting got underway around 6 p.m. Thursday at the Grace Lutheran Church on Woolsey Street. Police Chief George Gascon planned to address the officer involved shooting which took the life of Vinh Bui, a 47-year-old former postal worker. ABC7 met the Bui family at their home and Vinh's brother, Quang Bui, showed us where his brother stood just before being shot by police.

"One officer was right here [to the left of the room] and one right here [to the right] and all the kids sitting right here [in front of Vinh] even the girl who was sitting right here and [they opened] fire. They shot at same time," said Quang.

Quang said his brother was shot multiple times in a small front room where at least 10 teens were gathered. He says that his nieces and friends often met in his home on the 600 block of Bacon Street.

Signs are posted everywhere asking that doors not be slammed and the kids are asked to keep quiet because Vinh -- who has lived here with his family for the past 10 years -- is sensitive to noise.

"If he gets a lot of big noise, he gets stressed out," said Quang.

They also say he suffers from mental illness.

"Yeah we know he [has had] mental problems for more than 10 years, but you know he is OK because we live together and we know it. He never hurt a family member," said Quanq.

The family said the teens' noise stressed Vinh out on Wednesday at about 4 p.m. They say he then stabbed one of the young women in the room. Someone called 911 to report the stabbing and police responded and entered the home.

"Officers came in say 'Who holding the knife? Where the guy who holding the knife?'" said Quanq.

Bui said his sister tried to reassure officers she could calm Vinh down and take his knife.

"She told officers, 'My brother is mental OK?' And two officers pushed my sisters back and say, 'I knew it. I can handle it,'" said Quanq.

Seconds later Vinh was shot.

"We believe it was a scalpel or something similar to a scalpel," said Gascon.

At the news conference, Gascon said that officers responded appropriately to the threat Vinh posed.

"My estimation is that the officers acted lawfully and within the scope of their work," said Gascon.

Gascon did add that Tasers, which often save lives in situations like this one, were not available to his officers.

"You never know, but we know there are tools out there that would probably give our officers another option that we do not have today," said Gascon.

The stabbing victim, a young woman and a friend of the family, will be OK since the wound was only superficial. The officers involved in the shooting are on leave while the incident is under investigation.

At the meeting, many questions were raised about if the officers should carry Tasers or if they are properly trained to handle the mentally ill.

Gascon said 800 officers have gone through extensive training to handle mentally ill people, but he said that training is being reevaluated to see how it can be improved.

The chief said it appears to be a lawful shooting of a man armed with a scalpel.

The question of Tasers was also raised. The police chief supports using them, but the police commission has not authorized arming officers with them. Angela Chan of the police commission is holding firm in her stance against Tasers.

"Especially if someone has medication or alcohol in their system, having them tasered could actually result in someone dying," said Chan.

Chan would like to see the health department work with the police department and give the police department information about a mentally ill person before they get to the scene. She says the police commission will discuss how police handle the mentally ill at a meeting in January.


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