Man shot by police in S.F.

January 27, 2008 6:25:44 PM PST
An encounter between police and a panhandler in San Francisco turned violent on Sunday.

It all started when the officers responded to reports of aggressive panhandling.

A chase followed and then police shot the man near the intersection of Greenwich and Polk, in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.

Police were on the scene talking to witnesses and taking measurements, but Polk and Greenwich Streets are open again.

Police say the panhandler came after an officer with a knife. It all started at around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, when police got a call that a panhandler was bothering people from the medium on Lombard and Van Ness streets.

The officers approach the man and police say the panhandler became aggressive, that there was a struggle and then a chase up to Polk.

That is when the second police unit arrived, and police say an officer from that unit fired the shot at the man, hitting the panhandler in the chest and perhaps the hip or leg.

"When the second unit arrived, the subject pulled a knife and the officers told to put it down, he refused to put it down, he advanced on the officers and one officer shot him," said Captain Al Casciato from San Francisco Police.

ABC7's John Alston: "How close did the suspect get to the officer?"

"They said it was really close. It was a matter of feet and the witnesses cooperated to the stories," said Capt. Casciato.

The panhandler is at San Francisco General Hospital where he is reported to be in surgery and in critical condition. The officer is at police headquarters where he is being debriefed.

Captain Casciato said he will be put on administrative leave, which is standard after incidents like this. The panhandler is known in the area, police know him and say he has some mental and drug issues.