A 32-year-old man who was shot and killed by San Francisco police sergeants on Sunday evening in the parking lot of the Mission police station allegedly asked police about their weapons and ammunition earlier in the day, police said.
The man, whose name was not immediately being released by the medical examiner’s office, reportedly approached San Francisco police officers on patrol at 16th and Mission streets earlier on Sunday.
The suspect asked the officers questions such as what kind of guns San Francisco police officers carry, what kind of ammunition they carry and if the department had been involved in any recent officer-involved shootings, according to police.
The suspect lingered around the area, but officers did not engage with him and he eventually left, police said. The same man entered the police station parking lot, located at Valencia and 17th streets, where he was seen loitering around 5:20 p.m., according to police.
San Francisco police Officer Albie Esparza said the parking lot is a restricted area that is not open to the public. Three police sergeants approached the man and asked him to leave the restricted area, according to Esparza.
He acknowledged their request and began to walk away, but then stopped before reaching the parking lot entrance at Valencia Street. The sergeants walked over to their vehicles and were preparing to leave when they noticed that the man had not left and was standing in the middle of the entrance staring at them, according to police.
The sergeants again approached the man and asked him to leave the restricted area, police said. According to police, the suspect began to back out of the parking lot, facing the sergeants with his hands in his shirt pockets.
The sergeants then told the man to show his hands but upon exiting the parking lot, he lifted up his shirt, revealing what officers determined to be the butt of a gun. Police said that as the suspect drew the weapon from his waistband, the sergeants also drew their service weapons, fearing for their safety and in defense of their lives.
Two of the sergeants fired their guns, striking the suspect three times, according to police. The man was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, where he underwent surgery but later died.
Esparza described the suspect as a 32-year-old man. Police discovered later that he was carrying an airsoft pistol, which can shoot pellets, but not bullets, Esparza said. The airsoft pistol did not have an orange safety tip indicating it was not a real gun, police said:
“We don’t know his motive or why he challenged the officers or approached them in the first place. … It was very erratic behavior by the suspect, very unusual.”
Police said no one else was injured during the shooting. San Francisco Police Department’s homicide unit and internal affairs division, as well as the district attorney’s office and the Office of Citizen Complaints are investigating the shooting.
The sergeants involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, as is standard protocol following officer-involved shootings, police said. A town hall meeting to discuss the incident will be scheduled for later in the week, according to police.