Mario Woods’ family readies SFPD lawsuit

Civil rights attorney John Burris plans to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of the family of 26-year-old San Francisco resident Mario Woods, who was killed last week when five San Francisco police officers responding to a reported stabbing opened fire.

Burris said he plans to meet with Woods’ family and members of the media on Friday to disclose new medical information and video findings. He said he will be filing a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the family.

Burris’ office has called the December 2, 2015 shooting of Woods an “unnecessary and tragic death at the hands of the San Francisco Police Department.” He said it is similar to the recent police shooting deaths of La Quan MacDonald and Ron Johnson in Chicago, who were both shot in the back while moving away from police.

Police have said Woods was armed with a kitchen knife at the time of the shooting and is suspected of stabbing a person earlier that day.

Burris maintains that officers shot Mario Woods roughly 20 times as he was trying to walk away. He said the videos show that Woods did not threaten the police before he was gunned down.

San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr has defended the use of force, saying the video shows Woods raising the hand holding the knife toward officers.

Police have not yet released information on how many rounds were fired at Woods and the San Francisco medical examiner’s office has not released how many bullets struck Woods.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and members of the community have called on the police department to alter their use of force policies to ensure that officers de-escalate conflicts.

“Mario was used as target practice by reckless and malicious San Francisco police officers,” Burris said in a statement released today, adding, “the killing is an outrage and an affront to the African American community.” Burris said he has had an independent video and audio expert enhance the cellphone video footage of the shooting, which has been shared widely on social media.

San Francisco police said the five officers who discharged their firearms are on administrative leave. Those officers’ names will be released within 10 days of the fatal shooting.

Burris said enhanced footage and new information pertaining to the case will be presented with Woods’ family on Friday at 11 a.m. at City College of San Francisco’s Southeast Center, located at 1800 Oakdale Ave. in San Francisco.