The San Francisco police chief’s account of the fatal shooting of a homeless man from Yucatan on Thursday April 7th was immediately challenged by two eyewitnesses, who said that the victim was not threatening police officers before he was killed.
The SFPD chief, Greg Suhr, said that police were called to a homeless encampment in the city by members of San Francisco’s homeless outreach team who reported a “suspect waving a large kitchen knife”.
Officers confronted the man, who refused their orders to drop his knife, even after he was shot four times with beanbag rounds, Suhr said.
The chief said the man then charged at the officers, and that two of them opened fire. Seven bullet casings were found at the scene.
The death of a homeless Hispanic person on a busy California street is not uncommon. Neither, in a country such as the U.S. in which 1,134 people died at the hands of law enforcement last year.
Yet the story of how 45-year-old Luis Gongora was killed last week, pieced together from friends and neighbors – both those who sleep in tents and others who have roofs over their heads – raises alarming questions.
According to Diario de Yucatán, Góngora was orginally from Teabo, a Yucatecan municipality south of Mayapán, known for its 17th century churchs: The Ex-convent of San Pedro y San Pablo and the Indian’s Chapel built around the year 1617.
Góngora migrated to the U.S. 13 years ago, looking to improve his quality of life. His address in the town of Teabo is Calle 28 (between 33 and 35), where his now widow Carmen May still resides today.
The San Francisco Police Department released few details in a public relations campaign that appears intended to justify, before the completion of any investigation, the decision by two officers to shoot seven bullets from their .40-caliber service pistols.
Many locals in the Mission district of the city knew Gongora merely as a peaceful and friendly Latino man who was always kicking a soccer ball against a wall.
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