The San Francisco Police Department today released a suicide letter written by a 32-year-old man who was shot and killed by police sergeants in The City’s Mission District on Sunday after he entered a restricted area at a police station armed with a replica gun.
Police said the investigation into the officer-involved shooting included a search of the deceased man’s phone, which revealed several suicide letters, including one he had written that was titled “Dear Officer(s).”
The letter is addressed to the officer or officers who were involved in his fatal shooting. He writes:
“I provoked you. I threatened your life as well as the lives of those around me. You were completely within you legal rights to do what you did.”
The letter goes on to say that he felt sad and lonely and that he wanted to end his own life, but didn’t have the courage to do so. In the letter, he encourages the officer or officers to:
“Please, take solace in knowing that the situation was out of your control. You had no other choice.”
San Francisco police said they believe the letter is related to the shooting that occurred on Sunday evening. San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr spoke with the deceased man’s father, who agreed to allow the public release of the letter, according to police.
The San Francisco medical examiner’s office was not releasing the name of the deceased as of this afternoon. Police said the man 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. There are numerous signs on the fence outside the police station that identify the area as restricted to police personnel.
Three police sergeants approached the man and asked him to leave the restricted area, according to Esparza. The man 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. Again, the sergeants 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 instructed 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, police said. Police discovered later that he was carrying only 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. 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.
San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr has scheduled a town hall meeting to discuss the officer-involved shooting. The town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Cornerstone Church at 3459 17th St., according to San Francisco police. The town hall meeting will be held on the same block where the fatal shooting occurred.