On December 2, 2015 Mario Woods was shot and killed by SFPD officers. At least 19 shots are audible in just over 3 seconds. Using these videos, posted by witnesses to social media, SFPD Chief Greg Suhr said that officers opened fire after Woods raised his arm, making a threatening move toward an officers. However, the videos show that shots were fired prior to Woods raising his arm.
A video of a racially charged, fatal San Francisco police shooting "casts doubt" on officers' accounts that a black man was moving quickly toward them when they shot, a federal judge wrote in a court ruling.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick's ruling Tuesday denied San Francisco's attempt to toss a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Mario Woods, a 26-year-old black man officers fatally shot in December 2015.
The shooting touched off weeks of protest over the treatment of minorities and led to changes within the police department. It came during heightened tensions nationwide over police killings of black men.
Woods was suspected of stabbing a man when officers found him standing at transit stop. Several officers surrounded Woods in a semicircle and shot him with "non-lethal" rubber bullets after they said he refused to drop a knife, according to depositions.
Videos taken by bystanders show Woods staggering out of the semicircle and sliding his right side against a wall as he tried to walk away and one of the officers scurrying to get in front of him.
At that point, five officers shot Woods a combined 21 times.
The officers testified that they believed Woods was walking quickly toward the officer who was trying to cut him off and that's why they fired.
"Videos cast doubt on the officer accounts that Woods was moving quickly or speeding up when officers shot him," Orrick wrote. "They seem to show him take four slow steps with his right shoulder up against the building, walking with a heavy limp. The knife was in Woods' right hand, on the building side."
KQED was first to report the ruling.
Lawyers for the city had sought dismissal of the lawsuit by arguing the officers acted reasonably.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon in May said there was insufficient evidence to criminally charge the officers.
The fatal shooting was the first among several in the city within a short period, leading then-Police Chief Greg Suhr to resign and San Francisco to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a review of the Police Department and its policies. The Justice Department recommended nearly 300 changes to the force.