San Francisco Police Chief Resigns After Shooting Death Of Black Woman
- Author: Jack Replman May 23, 2016,
May 23, 2016, 8:11
The latest victim, who was reportedly shot dead while behind the wheel of a stolen auto, echoed last December's shooting by San Francisco police of 26-year-old black woman Mario Woods.
In an unexpected announcement Thursday afternoon, Mayor Ed Lee said at his request Greg Suhr had resigned as chief after the two met following an officer-involved shooting in which an unarmed black woman in a stolen vehicle was killed.
The Black Lives Matter movement had targeted Suhr for months, following a scandal over racist and homophobic texts sent by police officers, and several recent officer-involved shootings.
While other cities' police departments across the country have been able to sweep police shootings of black and brown residents under the rug, San Francisco has had the added problem of not one but two texting scandals that demonstrate clear racist attitudes from their officers.
"But following this morning's officer-involved shooting and my meeting with Chief Suhr this afternoon, today I have arrived at a different conclusion to the question of how to best move forward". (He was also Lee's guy until he wasn't, following yesterday's shooting.) On Friday, Chaplin touted his experience working in narcotics and on the gang task force - two details that aren't viewed with much love in progressive circles - as ideal preparation to be the chief who can fix trust lost with communities of color.
According to Lee, Suhr was committed to reforming the department, but changes haven't been made quickly enough.
Phelicia Jones of the Justice for Mario Woods coalition said, "I am elated that he finally made a decision to resign".
The Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, said he's "withholding judgment" until it's determined why the officer fired his gun Thursday.
Lee, who appointed Suhr in 2011, supported him throughout public outcry for him to step down, but it came to an end Thursday. Those calls intensified in April when police shot and killed a homeless Latino man who was also carrying a knife. Until Thursday, he was a deputy chief in charge of implementing Suhr's reforms. In the scuffle that ensued, the sergeant fired one shot striking the woman.
How long Chaplin will lead the SFPD is unknown: A source in the mayor's office said Lee plans to conduct a national search but is open to internal candidates. "Acting Chief Chaplin is an experienced veteran of the SFPD and is more than capable of leading this fine department during this transition", Halloran said. She and Chaplin had been classmates at the Police Academy - he was president of their class, and she was vice president.
"Not for me, not for Greg", Lee said. "Toney has most recently helped establish our new Professional Standards and Principled Policing bureau, the arm of the department that focuses on accountability and transparency", said Lee.
Suhr said it's unknown if any weapons were found in the vehicle.
Four members of the city's 11-member board of supervisors called for Suhr's resignation on 11 May 2015, and he was the subject of frequent protest, including a 17-day hunger strike by a group of five local activists.
However, unlike the previous killings, that's as far as Chief Suhr got. Suhr tapped Chaplin to coordinate that effort with U.S. Department of Justice officials called in to review the SFPD.