SFPD holds meeting over North Beach shooting

September 20, 2011 1:01:31 AM PDT
San Francisco's police chief defended the actions of an officer who opened fire this past weekend in North Beach accidentally struck two bystanders. The chief responded to concerns at a community meeting in North Beach.

At Broadway and Kearny Street, police say they witnessed a drug deal and they chased the suspect to a parking lot. The police say the officer fired from about 15 feet away, after the suspect drew a weapon, and the bullet missed the suspect and accidentally hit two bystanders about 20 feet behind the suspect. Now, community members are questioning the officer's actions after shooting into a crowd.

"If an officer believes their life is in danger, they can defend themselves," said San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.

Suhr says his officer acted within department protocol when they accidently shot two innocent people in North Beach at 2 a.m. on Saturday.

"Obviously the department could not feel worse at the fact that two bystanders were harmed," said Suhr.

The bullet missed an armed suspect and shot an innocent Oakley man in the left ankle. Police say a fragment from the same bullet struck a female bystander from Yountville in the right thigh. Both are recovering at home.

"One of these days I might be walking by. I don't want to get hurt. I don't want any innocent people get hurt," said resident Steven Lee.

Still, Suhr says the single shot from the officer forced 20 year old suspect to give up and drop a Tech-9 machine pistol. It was loaded with 22 rounds and police say he was aiming it at them.

"Can you imagine if this assault weapon had been allowed to be discharged versus the officers firing a single shot?" said Suhr.

It happened in front of Nadar Marvi's club and now with the encouragement of Suhr, he's hoping to strengthen cooperation between the police and club owners.

"Loitering is one of the things because the night clubs really try to keep people moving and not hang around in front of clubs," said Marvi.

The police realize they will have to deal with the legal matters after this. The chief was apologetic for the collateral damage, but he's standing by his officer's actions.


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