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SF Police Will Settle Lawsuit Over Killing of Immigrant

The City of San Francisco has reached a tentative settlement with the family of a 20-year-old Guatemalan man whom police shot in the back and killed in 2015. 

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The City of San Francisco has reached a tentative settlement with the family of a 20-year-old Guatemalan man whom police shot in the back and killed in 2015.

“I can confirm that we have reached a tentative settlement that contemplates dismissal of the entire lawsuit and no admission of wrongdoing,” San Francisco City Attorney’s Office spokesman John Cote said in an email Tuesday.

The terms of the agreement, which are not yet public, require approval from the San Francisco Police Department and Board of Supervisors.

The parents of Amilcar Perez Lopez sued the city in April 2015, claiming San Francisco police Officers Craig Tife and Eric Reboli shot their son in the back as he ran away from them in the Mission District.

He was shot on Feb. 26, 2015 as the two plainclothes officers responded to reports that Perez was chasing a man identified as Abraham P., with a knife.

After the shooting, then-Police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters that Perez Lopez “lunged at the officers with a knife overhead,” but an autopsy revealed he was shot five times in the back and once in the back of his head.

In April 2017, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against the officers, finding the shooting justified because Perez Lopez could have been threatening the officers or Abraham P. with a knife.

Perez Lopez’s death was one in a string of high-profile police shootings that shook public confidence in the city’s law enforcement, leading to protests, calls for reform and a federal review of the police department.

After a nine-month review, in October 2016, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, issued 272 recommendations on the city’s disproportionate use of deadly force against people of color, lack of officer accountability and insufficient data collection.

The Trump Administration has ended the COPS office’s collaborative reform work with troubled police departments and redirected the office to technical assistance and training to combat violent crime.

After the fatal police shooting of Mario Woods in December 2015, San Francisco adopted a new policy that makes pointing a gun at a person a “use of force” incident that requires officers to justify their actions in writing.

The department also unveiled new training methods that require officers to shoot only two rounds at a time, and to stop and reassess threats after every two shots.

Additionally, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office launched a new, independent bureau to investigate police shootings, police misconduct and possible wrongful convictions.

Despite those reforms, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon has not pressed charges against any officer for killing unarmed or knife-wielding suspects in a series of high-profile shootings from 2014 through 2016.

“The law gives significant deference to officers in situations in which they have to make a split-second decision,” Gascon said in April last year as he announced his decision not to press charges against the officers that shot Perez Lopez.

The dollar amount the city has offered to settle the Perez Lopez family’s suit will be made public when it is presented to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for a vote.

The Perez Lopez family’s attorney, Arnaldo Casillas of Long Beach, did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

Follow @NicholasIovino
Categories / Civil Rights, Government, Personal Injury

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