Justice Department to Investigate San Francisco Police Department


By Soumya Karlamangle, The LA Times and other sources


The U.S. Department of Justice is beginning a review of the San Francisco Police Department, which recently came under fire for the shooting of Mario Woods and for a separate incident in which officers sent homophobic and racist text messages to each other.


In December, five San Francisco police officers shot and killed 26-year-old Mario Woods who was holding a kitchen knife and cornered with his back against a wall.


The killing of Mario Woods was captured on cellphone video and has led to several protests and demonstrations in the city, along with the creation of the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition. On Saturday, nearly a thousand people marched in the streets for the Super Bowl’s grand opening, calling for the firing of SF police Chief Greg Suhr.


John Burris, the lawyer for Woods’ family, has said he asked the Justice Department to investigate the five officers who shot Woods. He said they acted like a “firing squad.”


“This is a golden opportunity for everyone to take a look at the San Francisco Police Department,” Burris said at a news conference earlier this month.


“It is the right and decent thing to do and a step in the right direction toward healing in the African American and Latino communities,” said Burris.


Lee had also asked for a federal probe of the shooting last week.


In December, a judge also ruled that officers who exchanged racist and homophobic text messages would be allowed to keep their jobs because the police department had waited too long to address the misconduct.


That decision raised heavy objections and officials said they will appeal.


“The fact that San Francisco is forced to retain police officers that demonstrated explicit racism will have ramifications for the reputation of the department, the fair administration of justice and the trust of the community SFPD serves,” said District Attorney George Gascón after the ruling.


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