The family of a homeless Mexican man killed by San Francisco police officers more than two years ago delivered a letter to District Attorney George Gascon Thursday, demanding to know why he hasn’t made a decision on whether to charge the two involved officers.
The letter is the next step in the family’s quest for justice for the death of Luis Gongora Pat, 45, shot by Sgt. Nate Steger and Officer Michael Mellone near the corner of Shotwell and 19th streets on April 7, 2016.
Gongora Pat’s family met with Gascon for the first and only time on Feb. 28, when Gascon said he would have a charging decision within “six to eight weeks.” Audio of the meeting is available at www.justice4luis.org.
The family attempted to hold Gascon to the deadline, staging a daily, two-week rally between April 11 and April 25 outside the Hall of Justice. The family said they have still not heard from Gascon since the meeting.
The letter, written by Gongora Pat’s cousin, Carlos Poot Pat, read:
“You failed to keep your word to us, and you lied. … I am sure that you noticed my family and myself with our supporters holding a 15-day countdown … underneath your office windows.”
The letter continued:
“The appropriate response, on your part, would have been a courtesy call to notify us that you would not be making your decision by your own self-imposed deadline.”
“In such a delicate case as the killing of a person by officers of the law, we expected a minimum of courtesy and attention from you. You are now a week delayed from the maximum date you said it would take to make a decision, and you still have not communicated with us. We ask that you please call us, as soon as possible, to invite us to your office to discuss this delay.”
The letter was written with assistance from Gongora Pat’s other cousin Luis Poot Pat and his brother Jose Gongora Pat.
Luis Gongora Pat, an indigenous Mayan man from the Mexican state of Yucatan, had lived in the U.S. for more than a decade before he was fatally shot near the homeless encampment where he was living at the time.
The day he died, officers responded to the area after homeless outreach workers called police to report a man seen swinging a large kitchen knife, police said.
Upon arrival, officers found him seated on a sidewalk allegedly armed with a knife.
After ordering him in both English and Spanish to put the knife down, they fired beanbag rounds at him. Police said he then stood up and ran at the officers with the knife in his hand.
Steger and Mellone both opened fire, striking him. Gongora Pat later died at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, police said. The entire encounter lasted about 30 seconds.
Last week, District Attorney’s Office spokesman Alex Bastian said Luis Gongora Pat’s case remains under investigation.
Gongora Pat’s family has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit and is being represented by civil rights attorney Adante Pointer. The civil suit, however, won’t be heard in federal court until May 2, 2019, according to Pointer.
Luis Poot Pat said in Spanish Thursday outside of the Hall of Justice:
“It’s very abhorrent and unjust what Gascon is doing. He hasn’t even dignified us with a call or update on what’s happening. I have faith that he will have the courage to do the right thing … even though I have my doubts. But I still have faith; faith is the last thing to die.”