SF Police Chief Greg Suhr turned tail and ran while being booed out of a community gathering organized in the Bayview neighborhood to address concerns over the police murder of 19 year-old Kenneth Harding (who was stopped by police as he exited a MUNI train without proof of fare on Saturday afternoon). Unlike Harding, Suhr was not shot in the back as he fled.
An hour and a half into the meeting at the Bayview Opera House, Suhr, who has only been on the job for three months, was "evacuated" by at least 20 officers and his command staff. There was an estimated 300 people in attendance.
“That’s right, walk away,” screamed one man, as the crowd surged around the officers. “You walking out ‘cause you know you not ready to deal with the reality,” a woman shouted into the microphone.
The anger in the predominantly black crowd revealed divisions within the community, with many younger community activists protesting the “establishment” approach of the older religious leaders. They claimed the leaders worked too much with police.
It was the elders whom had organized the community gathering, largely to let the police explain themselves/obfuscate/slander the victim.
Harding ran away from the officers who had detained him, and according to several eyewitnesses, he was doing so at full speed without looking back at the officers. He was clearly running for his life. Media reports have called him a parolee, and have accused him of being linked to a recent violent crime in the Seattle area.
Multiple cell phone videos captured the immediate aftermath of the police shooting on Saturday, and Harding can be seen laying on the ground in a pool of his own blood, hopelessly fighting for his life as multiple officers stand over him with their guns pointed at him. An angry crowd forms, and the officers turn their attention to crowd control rather than providing assistance to the dying victim.
One particular video was used by police as "evidence" that a witness picked up an alleged gun that Harding allegedly fired at the officers during the chase. However, the witness in question clearly points to a flat rectangular object on the ground and can clearly be heard asking, "Is that your phone?" The man picks up the phone and disappears off screen.
Earlier in the video, another shiny object had come into view for less than a second, and police allege that the shiny object is Harding's gun. However, the alleged gun is several yards beyond where Harding lay dying, in the direction that he had been running (i.e. he would have had to have thrown, not dropped, the gun forward before he was shot, which, admittedly, is not exactly implausible). The shiny object is also several feet away from the cell phone that is picked up by the witness in the video. The witness does not look in the direction of, point to, or in any other way signal that he has noticed a gun lying on the sidewalk several feet away. Also, the person shooting the video does not notice the alleged gun, even though he/she appears to walk right next to it.
That didn't stop the police from lying and saying, through their media accomplices, that a video had been posted on youtube which showed a witness picking up Harding's gun. This was their excuse for not being able to find the gun for 6 hours, despite combing the entire area, including nearby rooftops, for the alleged weapon.
On Tuesday, 3 days after the shooting (and just before a protest that resulted in 43 arrests), the SFPD announced that they had found gunshot residue on Harding's right hand. The funny thing is, they still haven't announced that they have found any slugs or shell casings at the scene, and they haven't found Harding's fingerprints on the alleged gun. All they have is a video of a man picking up a cell phone off the ground, a dead man's police record, and alleged evidence of "gunshot residue" on the victim's hand (which is the easiest evidence to fake, since the police had three days to put that residue there after the fact - not to mention the fact that the presence of residue on someone's hand does not prove when or where a gun may have been fired by that hand).
In the end, whether or not Harding was an innocent saint, a pimp, a parolee, or even a man who shot at police while running away from them at full speed, he was clearly not a threat to the two police officers who shot at him, resulting in his death. It could easily be argued that shooting at a running suspect on a busy street in broad daylight was the most dangerous thing that happened that afternoon, and that type of police work should not be tolerated in any community.
Further, not possessing a $2 transit pass should not cost any human being their life, no matter what they may or may not have done in the past.