Public Defender Jeff Adachi Wednesday released officer body camera footage of a police shooting in San Francisco’s Ocean View neighborhood and called upon the District Attorney’s Office to drop charges against the suspect, Sean Moore.
Adachi said the video contradicted police accounts that Moore, who family members have described as mentally ill, was advancing on officers at the time he was shot on the front steps of his home in the 500 block of Capitol Avenue around 4 a.m. on Jan. 6.
Police have said Moore kicked an officer in the face during an initial confrontation that led to his being pepper sprayed. He then allegedly retreated back into the house, came back out and punched an officer who was wielding a baton in the face before advancing on Officer Kenneth Cha, who opened fire.
The shooting was the first such incident since San Francisco police rolled out body-worn cameras to officers.
The videos released today show Moore responding angrily to officers, repeatedly shouting at them to “get the fuck off my stairs” and using derogatory language.
However, Adachi said they also show that he was trying to avoid the baton strikes and retreat back into the house at the time he was shot:
“We feel that the video clearly demonstrates that the police version put forward was incorrect.”
Adachi argued the officers should have deescalated the situation by retreating when it became clear that Moore was combative and calling in support from the Crisis Intervention Team, which is trained in handling mentally ill subjects and other tense situations.
“This is a situation where everyone could have and should have gone home safe.”
Acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin defended his officers, saying they had followed department policies in attempting to deescalate the situation and were attacked by Moore, who was larger than them and had the advantage of higher ground:
“The footage shows that they were in fact assaulted by the subject.”
Given that the officers at one point thought Moore had “something in his hand,” Chaplin said they had shown “great restraint”:
“They did not default to gun, they used pepper spray and baton. … They took time to evaluate before resorting to the firearm.”
Moore’s mother, Cleo Moore, said her son had a history of mental illness but the family has struggled to get him care since he is an adult.
Cleo Moore said Wednesday:
“If crisis intervention had responded or someone who is knowledgeable in taking care of the person who is mentally ill… it would not have happened this way. … My son is not a vicious person, he’s just struggling every day with mental illness.”
Chaplin said he did not know if the officers were aware Moore had a history of mental illness, but noted that officers often do not have that sort of information when responding to a call.
Moore was shot in the groin and abdomen and has undergone two surgeries, but is now in stable condition, according to Adachi.
He was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges including criminal threats, threats against an officer, assault and battery on an officer and resisting arrest. He remains in custody with bail set at $2 million and is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 26.
The district attorney’s office today declined to comment on the release of the video, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.