Video: Rookie San Francisco officer fatally shoots carjacking suspect
Police Chief Bill Scott said that the officer who fired was on his fourth day of duty, riding with a training officer
By Evan Sernoffsky
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO — Police body camera footage released during a town hall meeting Thursday night showed a rookie San Francisco police officer fatally shooting an unarmed carjacking suspect, who had jumped out of a stolen minivan and ran beside a pursuing patrol cruiser.
The video footage prompted gasps and outrage from the nearly 100 people from the predominantly African American community gathered at the True Hope Church on Gilman Avenue, a few hundred feet from where the shooting took place last Friday morning.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott revealed that the officer who fired the single fatal shot from the passenger’s seat of the patrol car was on his fourth day of duty, riding with a training officer.
Police did not release the officer’s name. The man he shot was identified as 42-year-old Keita “Iggy” O’Neil, a Bayview resident who lived with his ailing mother and father. O’Neil allegedly assaulted a state lottery worker, carjacked her and led police on a chase before the shooting.
“Y’all not only killed Iggy, y’all killed his mom,” O’Neil’s friend Demetrius Williams told the panel of three police officials, including Scott, Bayview Station Capt. Steven Ford and Capt. Valerie Matthews, head of the department’s field operations.
“She’s dying of cancer, fighting for her life, and now she’s burying a son,” said Williams, 45.
Scott said the shooting remains under investigation. He said the department released two videos of the incident during the town hall “for the purposes of transparency without drawing any conclusion during this stage in the investigation.”
“I’d like to give our condolences to the friends and family of Mr. O’Neil,” Scott said. “We fully understand that any loss of life is tragic and many people will be deeply impacted by the loss of Mr. O’Neil’s life.”
O’Neil’s mother was not at the meeting, but his grieving father, Charlie Grayson, attended to listen to dozens of speakers voice their frustration with the department as new revelations in the shooting came to light.
“My hand to God, they killed Iggy. That was my friend,” said a man who identified himself only as David. “They murdered him on the street.”
Others in the crowd erupted at times, some shouting at the department officials, sitting at a table at the head of the church aisles.
Gwen Woods, the mother of Mario Woods, a 26-year-old stabbing suspect who was shot dead by police in the Bayview on Dec. 2, 2015, started wailing, “They hate us! They hate us! They hate us!” immediately after watching video of O’Neil’s killing. Her friends escorted her out of the room so she could compose herself before returning.
The deadly shooting came at the end of a police chase that started around 10:30 a.m. on the 1800 block of 23rd Street on Potrero Hill. O’Neil allegedly grabbed the keys from a state lottery worker, pushed her to the ground and drove off in her white minivan.
The driver suffered what police described as non-life-threatening injuries.
Responding officers came upon the van driving down Highway 101 in the Bayview “caravaning” with a gold-colored sport utility vehicle that was spotted driving away from the scene of the carjacking, police said.
Officers stopped the SUV at Gilman Avenue and Ingalls Street, and the men were detained at the scene. They have since been released, and the case remains under investigation. They have not been charged.
Additional officers chased the lottery van into the Alice Griffith public housing complex two blocks away.
Surveillance video footage from inside the complex, released during Thursday’s meeting, shows the van heading east on Fitzgerald Avenue, where it clipped a parked car as it approached Griffith Street.
As the van neared the intersection, the driver’s side door opened, at which point police said O’Neil got out and ran toward a pursuing patrol car.
The second video released Thursday was from a body camera mounted to the rookie officer’s chest. His training officer was wearing a body camera, but Scott said the camera was not turned on.
In the body camera footage, the officer can be seen drawing his pistol from the passenger’s seat as the cruiser is still moving. In a split second, the video shows him open the side door and fire a single shot through the window as the car comes to a stop and O’Neil runs beside it.
Police said O’Neil was not armed.
Some in attendance Thursday questioned whether the officer violated department policy in firing from inside the vehicle.
Chief Scott responded by reading the department’s use-of-force policy concerning firearms and vehicles.
“Officers shall not discharge a firearm from his or her moving vehicle,” he read. It was unclear from the body camera footage whether the vehicle was still moving or stopped when the officer fired his weapon.
The shooting is under investigation by the department’s internal affairs division, the homicide bureau and the San Francisco district attorney’s office.
©2017 the San Francisco Chronicle