SFO Police Shot Man in Back, Contradicting Chief’s “Lunging” Claims,
Another case of a man “lunging” towards police officers with a knife has proven to be false by an autopsy.
The autopsy, conducted by the San Francisco Medical Examiner, proves Amilcar Perez Lopez was shot four times in the back by San Francisco police exactly one year ago today.
At the time, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters that Lopez made them fear for their lives, according to a San Francisco Examiner article last year.
Suhr said police were called regarding a report of a man with a 12-inch blade chasing someone at 24th and Folsom streets Thursday evening. Two plainclothes officers wearing identification badges arrived to find a victim with a bicycle and suspect on opposite sides of a parked car.
Suhr said the officers told the suspect to drop the knife several times before he allegedly slashed at an officer, causing him to jump back. Both officers again instructed the suspect to drop the weapon before they fired six shots at the man when he again lunged at them, the chief said.
But now San Francisco police are not saying much after two autopsies, including a private autopsy commissioned by the victim’s family last year, prove the Guatemalan immigrant was shot four times in the back, including at least once in the back of the head.
This is what the San Francisco Examiner is reporting today after obtaining the second autopsy this week:
A second autopsy of a young Guatemalan immigrant who was shot dead one year ago today by San Francisco police appears to contradict Police Chief Greg Suhr’s initial claims about the shooting.
The autopsy, conducted by the Medical Examiner’s Office and obtained Thursday by the San Francisco Examiner, mirrors the findings of an independent autopsy conducted after Amilcar Perez Lopez, 20, was fatally shot by officers in the Mission district on Feb. 26, 2015.
The independent autopsy was commissioned by attorneys for the Perez Lopez family, who filed a civil rights lawsuit against The City, Suhr and the officers involved in the shooting, alleging that officers Craig Tiffe and Eric Reboli used excessive force and caused the wrongful death of Perez Lopez.
“This case is truly significant because the contrast between their version and the physical evidence is so stark,” said Arnoldo Casillas, the lead attorney in the case. “We’ve got our autopsy and their autopsy that show the bullets hit him in the back.”
Not only did Perez Lopez not speak English, the two cops were in plainclothes, which has many San Francisco residents questioning whether he even knew they were cops.
Witnesses have said he was “running for his life,” according to the Guardian. But like the victim, the witnesses were in the country illegally and have been “driven underground.”
However, those who knew him said he was a hard-working man who would work 22 hour shifts in construction.
“He left Guatemala with $200 in his pocket. He took the buses up to Mexico. He worked in Mexico for two months, and then he just kept his thought, ‘I’m going to get to the United States.’”
Perez-Lopez was homeless for his first weeks in San Francisco but soon met Roman, a Nicaraguan national, who helped get him a job at a local construction firm. The two spent almost every day together, working back-breaking shifts to install central heating systems around the city, and then taking more private construction jobs after they clocked off. They started early, at 5am, and worked six day weeks. On occasion they would complete 22-hour shifts.
Kevin Born, the owner of Ashbury General Contracting and Engineering where Amilcar worked his day job remembers him as “a hard working, mild-mannered guy” who “never got into any confrontations”.“He was paying $300 rent to live on a cot in a boiler room. He didn’t even have a bed,” said Born. “One of the things he was most excited about was he had just found a new room and he was going to be able to buy his brothers and sisters presents that he could keep safe. This is the kind of guy, this is where his motivations were. How much more honorable could somebody be?”
The two cops who killed him, Eric Reboli and Craig Tiffe, were named in a 2009 lawsuit accusing them and two other officers of viciously beating and kicking a man named David Magana after mistaking him for a suspect. The lawsuit was dismissed, according to the Guardian.