Calif. police shoot, kill man they say tried to run them down

Delfin Vigil, Chronicle Staff Writer
The San Francisco Chronicle
Copyright 2006 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
All Rights Reserved

San Francisco police fatally shot a suspected drug dealer Saturday after the man tried to run over two officers in the Mission District with a stolen car, a spokesman said Sunday.

Oliver Lefiti, a 37-year-old nightclub bouncer and resident of South San Francisco, died at San Francisco General Hospital early Sunday morning surrounded by his mother, brother, girlfriend and teenage son.

The family is questioning whether police used excessive force in the incident.

"His body was so full of bullet holes -- from his neck to his legs," said Lefiti's mother, Ana, who received the news of her son's shooting while she was at his aunt's funeral Saturday evening. "Why did they have to shoot at him so many times?"

Two officers confronted Lefiti after a caller reported seeing someone selling drugs from a blue car on Hoff Street at 5:15 p.m., Sgt. Neville Gittens said.

When Officer Jamie Hyun, who has been on the force for four years, and Gerard Arquero, on the force for six, didn't find the car on Hoff Street, they drove around the neighborhood in a patrol car looking for it. At 5:55 p.m. they spotted Lefiti sitting in a blue Honda Prelude parked on nearby Capp Street, between 15th and 16th streets, Gittens said.

"The officers stated that they parked their patrol car at an angle in front of the suspect's car, got out and ordered him numerous times to step out of the vehicle and put his hands up," Gittens said. "The officers stated that he refused to do that and instead drove his car toward the officers in an attempt to run them over. The officers stated that they then fired at the suspect."

Gittens said Lefiti was alone in the car. Neither officer was injured. Gittens said both officers were immediately placed on administrative leave for the duration of the investigation.

Lefiti's car, which Gittens said was stolen, accelerated for about 50 feet before crashing into a parked car. The officers then approached Lefiti to give first aid and called paramedics, who took him to San Francisco General Hospital.

"They shot my man like a dog," said Lefiti's girlfriend, Wendy Timbreza, who said she does not believe Lefiti was a drug dealer. "The police didn't have to do what they did. Why couldn't they have just shot at his tires?"

Lefiti's relatives and Timbreza said they haven't received details on the incident from police, although Gittens said he called Lefiti's mother twice on Sunday.

Timbreza said Lefiti was an outgoing guy whom she saw act nervous only once when they first met at a party in 2002 and he asked her to dance. The 6-foot-3-inch, 380-pound Samoan American went by the nickname "Big O" and spent much of his time as a bouncer for clubs like San Francisco's Rawhide and 111 Minna, according to Timbreza, who lived with Lefiti and his younger brother, Mike.

"My brother used to sell drugs, but that was like 15 years ago," said Mike Lefiti, who said his brother did not own a car but often borrowed cars from friends. He said Lefiti often volunteered as a counselor for kids arrested in San Francisco.

"He was a changed man," Mike Lefiti said. "There were never any drugs in our house as far as I know. Me, him and our mom were all together on Saturday morning making plans for our auntie's funeral, which he was going to be a pallbearer for. "

Lefiti grew up in Daly City and attended Westmoor High School there. He leaves a daughter and a son from two past relationships.

"His son Anthony is just a sophomore in high school," said Mike Lefiti. "His son saw him take his last breath and watched him flatline." 
June 26, 2006

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