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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

S.F. Cops Have Killed 83 People Since 1980

Posted By on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 3:25 PM

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Complaints of San Francisco police misconduct are at a 21-year low. Knowing that, you'd think San Francisco constables are more popular than they've been since the alcalde days.

But it's hard to buy into that notion when it appears that public mistrust of San Francisco cops is soaring, especially as of late. Last month, an officer shot and killed 28-year-old Alejandro Nieto, who was armed with a Taser; an angry march on the Hall of Justice materialized where police cars were vandalized. More recently, cops have been receiving anonymous death threats.

Authorities are well-aware that the streets aren't friendly to police: When applying for $1 million in grant funding from the federal Justice Department to keep the Bayview safe, District Attorney George Gascon's Office cited a "longstanding, deep-seated, and pervasive mistrust" of law enforcement.

Perhaps this is one reason why: San Francisco police appear to be some of the most trigger-happy cops in the country. In 2011, citizens were killed by police in San Francisco at 10 times the rate of those in New York City, and at about twice Los Angeles's rate.

No federally maintained clearinghouse of officer-involved shooting data exists, but according to stats compiled by one crime blogger, San Francisco's six fatal shootings in 2011 equals New York City's total -- and NYC has 10 times the people.

Local blogger Michael Petrelis dug up the data from San Francisco police , revealing that 83 people have been fatally shot by San Francisco cops since 1980. Of those, 29 killed were black men and 28 were white men.

Police shot and killed six people in 2011, which was the bloodiest year since 1990 when seven were killed at the hands of police officers.

We compiled a total by race and gender over the 34-year period:

  • Black males, 29

  • White males, 28

  • Asian males, 13

  • "Other" males, 6

  • Hispanic males, 3

  • Black females, 2

  • White females, 2

The recent outpouring of anger of the Nieto shooting hasn't been seen in quite some time, possibly since the shooting death of 19-year old Kenneth Harding on Third Street in 2011.

Amid that anger is a lot of misinformation. The word, repeated at City College, is that Nieto was killed while holding a burrito, not a Taser. That such misinformation would be bandied about as fact may say something about the perception of police here.

Is it because police here are seen as overly zealous with their guns?


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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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