San Francisco, CA — San Francisco residents attending a town hall meeting became outraged after police admitted that an unarmed man was shot and killed by a rookie officer in an incident that was carried out in the style of a drive-by shooting.
The unnamed officer had been on the job for just four days when he opened fire on Keita O’Neil, 42, from the passenger window of a patrol car at around 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 1. The Body Cam footage was recently released, and it shows that there was only a matter of seconds between the time the patrol car pulled up to O’Neil, and the time the officer fired the fatal shot.
According to a report from The Mercury News, police officials claimed O’Neil was “suspected of assaulting a California Lottery employee and stealing a van that belongs to the agency.” Officers then “chased the van and another SUV seen traveling with it to an area of public housing where O’Neil was shot.”
Police claim that O’Neil was driving the Lottery van, when he jumped out of it while it was still running, and then ran towards their patrol car. They also noted that the four individuals in the SUV took a different route, were stopped by police and arrested, and have since been released with no charges.
More than 50 residents attended the town hall meeting, many of whom had questions about the shooting, and when they watched the Body Cam footage from the shooting for the first time, KTVU reported that they responded with “gasps, cries and angry shouts.”
“Murder! That was murder,” Several residents began shouting after they saw the footage, which was live-streamed on the San Francisco Examiner’s Facebook page.
“They hate us! They hate us! They hate us!” shouted San Francisco resident Gwendolyn Woods, the mother of Mario Woods. Her 26-year-old son was shot and killed by police in the same neighborhood on Dec. 2, 2015—almost two years to the day before the shooting that killed O’Neil.
The Mission Local reported that Gwendolyn Woods also called out Police Chief Bill Scott, who has been head of the department for less than a year.
“What are you going to do?” Woods shouted. “Because the way that baby (O’Neil) and my baby (Woods), Kenneth Harding, Idriss Stelley, Alex Nieto … the way they were done—you’d better question it!”
Phelicia Jones, an activist and member of the group “Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community – Justice 4 Mario Woods,” told KTVU that judging by “several officer-involved shootings in recent years, racist texting scandals” and the hiring of Police Chief Scott, she believes there are a number of ways in which the San Francisco Police Department still struggles with racism.
“OK, so we have a black police chief—that’s good, but what changed?” Jones said. “For us, nothing has changed.”
The text accompanying the Body Cam footage claimed that the San Francisco Police Department was attempting to increase transparency by requiring their officers to use Body Cameras, and by releasing the footage to the public. However, it should be noted that the officer who fired the fatal shot was the only one whose Body Cam was turned on, according to the department.
“The release of this video and other information is not to be understood to provide any evidence that a conclusion has been reached in this investigation. As with all evidence, video evidence from body worn cameras may contribute to an understanding of an event or interaction, but to fully understand an encounter or an event, other evidence is always necessary.
This is an active and ongoing investigation in the early stages. All information is preliminary. Separate investigations are being conducted by the SFPD Homicide Detail, Internal Affairs Division, the SF District Attorney’s Independent Investigation’s Bureau and the Department of Police Accountability.”
Keita O’Neil was unarmed when he was shot by the officer, and he was pronounced dead after he was taken to a hospital. The name of the officer, as well as his status of employment with the department following the shooting, have not yet been released.
Watch the Body Camera footage below: