San Francisco OKs $140K Settlement in Police Shooting

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – San Francisco officials on Tuesday unanimously approved a $140,000 settlement to end a lawsuit over the 2016 police shooting of a Mexican immigrant.

The settlement was approved as part of the consent calendar for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which offered no comment on an ordinance authorizing the deal.

The family of Luis Gongora Pat, a Mexican immigrant of Mayan decent, sued the city in October 2016, claiming police shot and killed the 45-year-old father of three “within 30 seconds of confronting him.”

Police said Gongora lunged at officers with a knife, but some eyewitnesses contradicted that version of events. At least one officer involved had special training to de-escalate situations with mentally ill people, raising questions about the effectiveness of training reforms that emphasize using time, distance and other tactics to defuse situations when dealing with suspects wielding non-firearm weapons.

In May 2018, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon cleared two officers, Police Sgt. Nathaniel Steger and officer Michael Mellone, who fired seven bullets at Gongora on the 400 block of Shotwell Street on April 7, 2016. The officers fired bean-bag rounds at Gongora before using deadly force.

Gascon said Gongora refused to comply with English and Spanish-language commands to drop a knife as he stepped about 23 feet toward Steger before he was shot. An autopsy found Gongora had intoxicating levels of methamphetamine, along with smaller amounts of THC and caffeine, in his bloodstream when he was shot.

Civil rights attorney John Burris, who represents Gongora’s family in the lawsuit, did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.

The settlement will require a second vote of approval by the Board of Supervisors.

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