Video Shows Police Shooting of Mentally Ill Man

San Francisco Public Defender’s office releases police body cam footage that appears to contradict officers’ accounts of a January 6 shooting.

Jessica Christian/SF Examiner

Police descriptions of the January 6 early morning shooting of Sean Moore say that officers opened fire at Moore’s Oceanview residence after Moore had attempted to grab one of the responding officers’ batons. But the body cam footage of the incident, released Wednesday by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, appears to show otherwise.

The video certainly confirms that Moore was verbally confrontational with the officers, that he commits actions that could be considered assault of an officer, and that Moore seems aware he’s violated a restraining order. But at a town hall meeting last week, Moore’s mother confirmed that he suffered from a mental illness.

“He’s not an animal,” Cleo Moore said at the meeting. “He’s a person with a mental condition.”

A nine-minute video of the full incident is available online, but be warned that it contains relentless graphic language and hate speech. The video also underscores how exceedingly difficult police work can be when law enforcement has to work with mentally ill offenders.

But for the purposes of evaluating the claim that Moore grabbed at an officer’s baton, a briefer version provided by the Public Defender’s office is embedded below. This version contains also contains some graphic language, plus disturbing footage of a person being shot.

WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW CONTAINS GRAPHIC FOOTAGE.

This video shows that even body cam footage is not a perfect assessment tool for determining what happened at an incident involving police. Notably, the darkness of night hampers the visibility of anything on which the officers’ flashlights are not shining. Additionally, the body cams move around during physical contact in such a way that their lenses do not truly capture every move made in the incident

The video was also released by the San Francisco Police Department at a news conference after the Public Defender’s office released it Wednesday. “The footage shows that [the officers] were in fact assaulted by the suspect,” Acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin said at the news conference. “In this particular case there was great restraint.”

The SFPD also contends that both officers were injured in the incident, and offered photos at the news conference to emphasize this. The Public Defender’s office, meanwhile, is calling for all charges to be dropped. Moore faces multiple felony charges, and remains hospitalized but in police custody on $2 million bail.

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