NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Saturday, December 12, 2015, 10:06 AM
The heartbroken mom of a black man shot dead by a group of San Francisco cops is suing the department, as new video appears to show the knife-wielding suspect did not raise his weapon — contradicting police claims that the officers acted in self-defense.
Gwendolyn Woods and her attorney John Burris announced the federal civil rights lawsuit and showed the news video Friday, the same day the San Francisco Police Department released the names of the five cops who opened fire on stabbing suspect Mario Woods earlier this month.
“He was the best of me and redeemed himself,” said Gwendolyn Woods as she cried uncontrollably at a Friday press conference. “He did. He redeemed himself.”
The lawsuit claims police violated Woods’ civil rights and used excessive force when five cops opened fire on him on Dec. 2.
Woods’ mom and his two brothers sobbed Friday as they watched newly released video of the killing. The new footage — the third clip to circulate after the shooting — showed Woods did not raise the knife he was carrying at officers, as police have previously claimed. He didn’t even raise his hands, Burris said.
In the new clip, a passerby can be heard screaming, “Just drop it!” at Woods before the shooting. After the cops open fire, the woman’s cries become more distressed as she yelled, ‘Are you f–king serious?” at the officers.
“None of the videos show Mr. Woods creating an imminent threat to anyone prior to being riddled with bullets from head to toe,” according to the lawsuit that accompanied the new video.
Attorney John Burris comforts Gwendolyn Woods, the mother of Mario Woods, at a Friday news conference.
Officers Winson Seto, Antonio Santos, Charles August, Nicholas Cuevas and Scott Phillips were placed on leave pending the investigation, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
The police department said the five cops opened fire after Woods refused to drop an 8-inch knife he was carrying The cops were responding to a stabbing report in the city’s gritty Bayview neighborhood when they encountered and surrounded Woods. The suspect raised his knife and advanced toward one of the cops, police said.
Martin Halloran, president of the police union, maintained the officers acted appropriately: they first fired their weapons after pepper spray and the shooting of bean bags full of lead pellets, all of which failed to stop Woods.
San Francisco police said Woods refused to drop his knife and lunged at officers before the cops opened fire.
“With innocent bystanders nearby and the erratic behavior of the subject, the threat to life was imminent,” Halloran said. “With no other options available, the officers were forced to discharge their firearms.”
Two videos emerged immediately after the shooting, showing cops surrounding Woods. When the armed Woods tried to walk away from the officers, the five cops opened fire, unleashing at least 15 bullets and killing the 26-year-old.
The shooting angered community leaders and activists, and the third video and Friday lawsuit fueled the outrage. Some have called for Chief Greg Suhr to resign and for the officers who fired their guns to be charged criminally.
Police officers block an entrance to a crowded hearing room at a police commission hearing inside city hall Wednesday.
Dozens of protesters marched Friday through the streets to San Francisco’s City Hall. Some of them held signs demanding Suhr’s resignation. Police stood guard from a distance.
“This happened under his watch,” said Sam Sinyangwe, 25. The crowd dispersed about 3:30 p.m., Sinyangwe said.
Suhr said the department is investigating the shooting along with the district attorney and the city’s Office of Citizens Complaints. Suhr also said the department is reviewing its “use-of-force” policies and procedures and called on the police commission to arm the department with stun guns. Police departments in San Francisco and Detroit are the only cities with more than 500,000 residents to not arm officers with stun guns.
With News Wire Services
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