Thursday Morning News Roundup
Update: Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting in Bayview
A suspect shot by police Wednesday in San Francisco’s Bayview District has died, police Chief Greg Suhr said. The incident was initially reported by San Francisco Municipal Railway officials at 4:50 p.m. as police activity near Third Street and Paul Avenue.
The suspect, a man in his 20s whose name has not yet been released, was involved in an earlier stabbing nearby, according to police. Police have released scant details about the incident. However, a video posted to the social media site Instagram, apparently filmed by a bystander aboard a Muni vehicle, appears to show a man limping on the sidewalk and surrounded by police officers.
In the video, someone urges the man to “just drop it,” then seconds later a number of shots ring out. The officer-involved shooting comes as the San Francisco Police Commission was considering policies Wednesday evening for body-worn cameras by the Police Department’s officers. The cameras, not yet worn by officers, are slated to be deployed in San Francisco sometime in 2016.
Large Fuel Spill from Big Rig in Noe Valley
A large fuel spill from a big-rig in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood prompted the city’s Department of Emergency Management to briefly urge anyone in the immediate area to stay inside Wednesday afternoon.
The fuel spill was reported at 12:12 p.m., near the intersection of 28th and Noe streets, according to San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge. The scene had been cleared around 2 p.m., according to Francis Zamora, a spokesman for the Department of Emergency Management.
Talmadge said the big-rig spilled diesel fuel into the street. The fuel was running from the truck, down the hill, and into a storm drain, according to Talmadge. She said fire crews arrived at the scene, confirmed a “major diesel spill” and got to work laying absorbent material on the street to prevent any more fuel from running into the sewer system.
Talmadge said crews siphoned gasoline out of the truck’s fuel tanks and that the city’s Department of Public Works was called to the intersection to handle fuel that ended up in the sewer. The spill was reported by a third party, who apparently didn’t see a responsible party with the truck as fuel spilled into the road, according to Talmadge. Talmadge said police are investigating the incident and were working Wednesday afternoon to determine who is responsible for the truck.
Protestors Shut Down Down Meeting at City Hall on New Jail Proposal
A controversial plan to build a new $240 million jail in San Francisco moved forward Wednesday after a tumultuous hearing marked by a protest that shut the meeting down for several hours and led to the arrest of several people. The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee Wednesday voted unanimously to forward the jail project to the full board for a vote without a recommendation.
The committee also agreed to schedule the vote for Dec. 15 rather than Dec. 8 to allow newly-elected Supervisor Aaron Peskin time to be sworn in. The jail project, which includes the acceptance of an $80 million state grant, the issuance of $215 million in city financing and the purchase of property next to the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St., is intended to replace two decrepit, seismically unsafe jails now in use on the site.
The proposed new 384-bed facility would have 444 fewer beds than the current jails and include more space for inmate programs as well as units for mental health and drug treatment, according to city officials. The project faces stiff opposition from opponents who argue the city should instead spend the money on social services and programs to reduce incarceration and crime rates.
Opponents have urged the city to instead renovate existing jails in San Bruno, but city officials have said that solution is unworkable and would still leave the jail in need of more beds and holding facilities. Supervisor Katy Tang Wednesday said the conditions in the current jails were untenable and needed to be addressed.”Some of those arguments really ignore the practical reality of what would happen if this facility were not rebuilt,” Tang said before the committee vote.
The project’s fate before the full board remains uncertain, with some board members expressing opposition. Supervisor Eric Mar, a member of the budget and safety committee, Wednesday said that he would likely be voting against it due to his concerns about incarceration rates and their impact on the community.”I want to be on the right side of history on this,” Mar said. Wednesday’s vote came after a noisy protest under the No New SF Jail Coalition banner around noon Wednesday.
The group, which called for the vote to be postponed, erupted into loud chanting before discussion began, bringing the proceedings to a halt and eventually forcing supervisors to call a recess. The protest culminated in the arrest by sheriff’s deputies of four females and one male who had chained themselves together. The five were arrested on suspicion of trespassing in a public building, according to a sheriff’s office spokeswoman.
‘Hot Cop’ Pleads Not Guilty to Two Felony Hit-and-Run Charges
A San Francisco police officer known as the “Hot Cop of the Castro” pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two felony hit-and-run charges after he allegedly struck two pedestrians in a crosswalk in the city’s North Beach neighborhood early Sunday and then fled the scene on foot.
Police Officer Christopher Kohrs, 38, a seven-year veteran of the department who is currently out of custody on $100,000 bail, entered the Hall of Justice for his arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday afternoon. Met by a barrage of media, San Francisco sheriff’s deputies at the Hall of Justice ushered Kohrs into a backroom until Judge Edward Torpoco was ready to arraign him.
Kohrs had previously gained social media fame as the “Hot Cop of the Castro,” stemming from his time patrolling the Castro District and participating in events such as the San Francisco AIDS Foundations’ Big Gay 10K race. Kohrs is accused of striking two men in their 40s around 2:20 a.m. Sunday at Broadway and Montgomery Street and then fleeing the scene on foot. The two men were hospitalized with very severe internal injuries, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said Wednesday afternoon. Police said the injuries are considered serious but not life-threatening.
Kohrs was identified as the registered owner and driver of the orange and black 2009 Dodge Charger involved in the collision and left at the scene. Roughly eight hours after the collision, at about 10 a.m. Sunday, Kohrs turned himself in at police headquarters, according to the district attorney’s office. Police said they are investigating whether Kohrs was driving while intoxicated.Judge Torpoco asked Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Zudekoff whether there were allegations that Kohrs was driving under the influence when the collision occurred, but Zudekoff said that such allegations are not included in the current complaint.
Gascon said earlier this week that the lack of sobriety testing immediately after the collision could cause problems for prosecutors handling the case. Zudekoff urged the judge to prohibit Kohrs from driving, but Kohrs’ attorney Anthony Tall argued that his client would need to drive in order to attend meetings with the internal affairs unit at the Police Department. Torpoco ordered that Kohrs only drive to and from work-related meetings.
Kohrs is currently on unrelated medical leave and if he becomes eligible to return to duty, he will then be suspended pending further investigation, according to police. Gascon said Kohrs actually had the green light when the collision occurred and that the people he hit were crossing the street against a red light. He said what makes this incident “very disturbing” is that a police officer left the scene of a collision.
“He didn’t make himself available” for drug and alcohol testing until almost eight hours later, Gascon said. Gascon said, hypothetically speaking, “it makes it more difficult, but it’s not impossible” to prosecute someone for intoxication-related charges in similar cases.
Gascon was unable to comment on toxicology and forensic evidence collected by investigators. He said the officer’s conduct was “egregious” and that his office will be very aggressive in the prosecution of this case.He said when law enforcement officers, who are sworn to protect and serve the public, break the law, “It makes a mockery of the whole system.” Kohrs’ next court date, a pre-hearing conference, is set for Jan. 26.
(News provided by Bay City News.)