SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A San Francisco police officer who was shot in the head last week in a confrontation with a suspect has been transferred from San Francisco General Hospital to a rehabilitation facility Friday, according to police union officials.
Officer Kevin Downs was shot by Pacifica resident Nicholas McWherter after he responded to a report of a disturbance at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store at 1533 Sloat Blvd. Friday night, according to police.
At least one bullet struck Downs in the head, nearly hitting an artery that could have killed him, according to police.
Downs’ family has released information saying that a bullet fractured his skull, causing trauma to his brain and left him paralyzed in his right leg. More of his right side was paralyzed, but he has regained some
use of his right arm.
“Kevin has deep faith in God and is physically strong. Both qualities will be important as he moves through his recovery,” the family’s statement reads. “Kevin is determined through intense physical therapy and
state of the art neurological treatments to walk again and ultimately return to full duty as a San Francisco Police Officer.”
McWherter, 26, fled on foot toward Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove after firing the shots that struck Downs. Officers chased and shot him after he came out of bushes at 28th Avenue and Vicente Street and tried to run away, according to police.
He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment, but died two days later.
Interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin on Thursday described McWherter as a mentally-disturbed person, and said that he opened fire on officers almost immediately after they arrived.
Police were not aware that McWherter had a gun and he has no previous arrest history in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Police Department has opened both an administrative and criminal investigation and both the Office of Citizen Complaints and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office have also opened nvestigations into the shooting.
While Downs’ family has received offers of financial assistance, they said they would prefer any donations go to the group Ranchin’ Vets at www.ranchinvets.org.
Get well cards and letters of support for Downs can be sent via the San Francisco Police Officers Association at 800 Bryant St., Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103.