San Francisco News

Bullet that killed man doesn't match SFPD weapon

Thursday, July 21, 2011
Bayview residents like Geoffrea Morris want an independent review San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr Bayview residents express outrage at meeting Town hall meeting held between Bayview, police Protest in San Francisco over police shooting San Francisco police officers at protest A man was arrested in San Francisco among 34 others

There are new developments in the shooting death of a fare evader in the Bayview District last weekend.

Medical examiner Amy Hart said the bullet that killed 19-year-old Kenneth Harding is "not consistent with the service ammunition used by the San Francisco Police Department," implying that Harding may have killed himself with his own gun.

Investigators say the ammunition that killed Harding was a .380-caliber bullet. Another .380-caliber bullet was found in the jacket of the suspect. San Francisco police officers are unable to fire a .380-caliber bullet from their service weapons.

A weapon recovered from a parolee's house following the Bayview District shooting also does not match the bullet that killed Harding. That weapon was said to have been removed at the scene of the crime shortly after the shooting, and was recovered after officers reviewed video published to the website YouTube. Police say they are still searching for that weapon.

The San Francisco Police Department now says they believe Harding shot himself either purposefully or accidentally. The cause of death is still pending further investigation.

Irizarry, along with other community leaders in the Bayview, believe police are making the whole thing up. They want an independent investigation.

"People shoot themselves here [in the mouth] or right here [in the forehead]. Not in the neck. This is unbelievable. It's almost laughable," said Misha Irizarry from the Idriss Stelley Foundation.

"Everyone was out here. I pulled up even before the ambulance was here and no one out here said that he shot himself. No one," said Geoffrea Morris, a community activist.

Many Bayview residents even doubt that Harding had a firearm, despite cell phone video that shows what appears to be a gun on the ground not too far from his body. Police also say they found gunshot residue on Harding's right hand.

The new information comes one day after Wednesday night's community meeting that ended with the chief walking out and shaking his head. The town hall meeting turned into a shout fest. Suhr couldn't even finish his presentation, or get through the question and answer session. Faith leaders who organized the meeting were hoping for a civilized, constructive conversation. They were shocked at what actually happened.

"I understand that some people are concerned and upset, but there is no excuse for incivility," said San Francisco NAACP President Dr. Amos Brown.

There was a room full of people who appeared ready to listen and the chief appealed to the angry part of the crowd on their behalf.

"I don't care if you disrespect me, but don't disrespect all the other people who came to talk," said Suhr.

But eventually the chief gave up and left the meeting.

"My frustration is that we had the police come out, we had the chief come out, we had the supervisor out here and at the end of the day we are probably more frustrated now than when we were before we even walked in the door," said San Francisco resident Angelique Mahan.

The plan was for the chief to present the evidence they have so far in the shooting death of Harding. Many people question whether Harding was armed. But police say lab results show he had gun powder on his hand. They maintain he fired first and officers shot him in defense of their lives. They also have sounds of the gunshots from their ShotSpotter system. Investigators say they can hear shots coming from three different guns. Two officers fired at Harding.

The chief promises to go back to the Bayview and keep the conversation going.

"I love this community and I'm telling you right now there are some hurt people in there and they needed to hear from us. So here we are," said Suhr.

"Did it seem like a lot was resolved?" asked a reporter.

"No, they shouted me down and that means I have to come back again," said Suhr.

But Brown says he's ready to move on.

"We don't need these meetings, we need action," said Brown.

Suhr said he has received several emails and phone calls this morning in support of the police department and its attempt to hold a meeting Wednesday night.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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