SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)—The family of a man who was shot and killed by police officers in San Francisco’s Mission District in April is filing a claim against the city, the family’s attorney said today.
The family of Luis Pat Gongora, 45, is filing the claim following his death in the officer-involved shooting shortly after 10 a.m. on April 7 in the area of Shotwell Street near 18th Street.
The claim is the first step toward filing a civil lawsuit, according to the office of civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing the family.
Police had said the shooting occurred after a homeless outreach team went to investigate a report of a baby crying near a tent encampment in the area, but instead encountered Gongora, who was kicking a basketball off parked cars and later swinging a large kitchen knife.
Officers responded and said they found Gongora seated on the sidewalk with the knife in his hands and the blade pointed up. They ordered him to put it down multiple times, speaking in both English and Spanish, according to police.
Gongora apparently briefly put the knife down but then picked it back up, at which point an officer fired less-lethal beanbag rounds at him. Gongora then stood up and ran at the officers with the knife, prompting two other officers to fire seven shots at him, six of which hit him, police said.
Gongora was taken to San Francisco General Hospital but died a short time later.
According to Burris, the attorney representing Gongora’s family, none of the witnesses or officers said Gongora was acting aggressively or doing anything menacing with the knife when police first arrived.
Burris said in a statement, “Within a matter of 22 seconds, the involved SFPD officers violated their training and common sense by provoking a needless confrontation and ignoring the alternatives to deescalate the situation. Tragically, as a result of their recklessness, Mr. Gongora lost his life.”
Burris has planned a news conference for Friday afternoon in San Francisco to further discuss the family’s claim. He will be joined by family and friends of Gongora, as well as other supporters.
Police identified the two officers who shot their service weapons at Gongora as Sgt. Nate Steger, who has 17 years of law enforcement experience, and Officer Michael Mellone, who has 13 years’ experience.