Four newly released videos of a San Francisco police officer shooting a fleeing man in the back as he ran by pedestrians add details to an episode that enraged onlookers.
The officer fired after he saw that the man, Oliver Barcenas, “drew a firearm from his waist,” the San Francisco Police Department said Thursday in a press release. The gun, which is not visible in the videos, was a .45 caliber Glock equipped with a laser sight and extended clip, according to police.
The videos, taken from surveillance cameras and body-worn cameras, were released by San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott on Thursday at a town hall meeting. They captured the shooting and the aftermath, when an angry crowd surrounded the officer and shouted profanities.
The videos raised many questions at the town hall meeting. Police say the officer fired only after seeing Barcenas pull out a firearm. Critics contend that the officer acted recklessly.
“Those videos do not look good,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents District 3, where the shooting took place, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
The episode unfolded just after midnight on June 9, as many people in North Beach celebrated the Golden State Warriors’ NBA title win.
Police said two officers were on patrol when they saw four men standing on the corner of Grant Avenue and Vallejo Street. The men, according to the police press release, had “an open alcohol container in public violation.” One of the officers approached the men while the other parked their patrol vehicle.
In the video from one officer’s body-worn camera, audio is activated as he approaches the men. While he questions them, Barcenas takes off on foot along Grant Avenue.
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The officer pursues Barcenas, and seconds later Barcenas removes his jacket. Police said this is when he reached for a gun. At this point in the video, as they run past several people, the officer fires two rounds from his service weapon, and Barcenas falls to the ground.
Moments after shooting Barcenas, the officer reports on his radio, “Shots fired. We’re going to need medics.”
In the video the officer asks Barcenas, “Dude, dude, dude, you all right?”
At no point does the officer or his partner, who runs up after the shooting, attempt to provide medical assistance to Barcenas, who is clearly unconscious.
A crowd begins to gather around the officer, with one person shouting, “What the fuck you doing?!”
“Back up, homie,” the officer responds. “Back up.”
Several others in the crowd repeatedly shout at the officer, “Fuck you!”
When other officers arrive on the scene, the officer who fired his weapon says, “He had a firearm. I don’t know where it is … He had, like, a TEC-9.”
The videos do not appear to show Barcenas holding a gun. Nor do they show officers retrieving a pistol from him. Police later released a photo of the gun he was allegedly carrying.
Barcenas, 28, remained in Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Friday. Police say he was shot at least one time in the back. The hospital has reportedly declined to release information on his condition.
He faces multiple charges, including delaying an officer, carrying a concealed firearm, exhibiting a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to San Francisco’s KPIX-TV, Barcenas is well known to authorities. He was shot three times by another San Francisco police officer during a 2012 foot chase, after reportedly pulling out a loaded TEC-9 with an extended magazine.
Scott said he released the videos in the interest of transparency.
Although several people were nearby at the time of Saturday’s shooting and were not injured, attendees of Thursday’s town hall questioned the officer’s actions, according to the Chronicle.
“I’m very concerned about the shooting,” said 62-year-old Theresa Flandrich. “I would’ve hoped there would’ve been some awareness that there are other people here. It’s just shocking to me to see this.”
Natalie April, 24, said the videos are upsetting.
“I think you can tell from the video he was scared, and I don’t feel safe being around the streets with officers shooting people,” she said. “I think it’s beyond disappointing. I’m floored.”
The San Francisco Police Department’s general order on use of force states that officers may use deadly force only “as a last resort when reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or are not feasible to protect the safety of the public and police officers.”
The district attorney’s office and the city’s Department of Police Accountability are conducting independent investigations.