San Francisco police have attempted to clear up details around an officer-involved shooting by releasing body camera footage at a town hall event - but questions remain over alleged ‘friendly fire’ between officers.
The shooting at Shotwell Street in the Mission saw the arrest of Jose Corvera who was stopped while riding a bicycle and pushing another bicycle with his hand on Aug, 6.
SFPD officers were responding to calls of a bike theft in the area and asked Corvera to stop before a standoff took place.
It later transpired that Corvera was wielding a weapon that only fired blank rounds.
Corvera’s public defender later alleged in court that SFPD had been accidentally firing live rounds at each other. The public defender claimed they got this information from police reports of the incident.
SFPD Commander Paul Yep delivered the town hall meeting. He identified the four officers who discharged weapons during the officer-involved shooting to be Michael P. Rotschi, Cory Faubel, Jean-Michel M'Bouroukounda, and another officer named Cain Schrachta.
Yep said that two uniformed Mission Station officers patrolling the area in a squad car, Schrachta and Michael P. Rotschi, stopped a man later identified as 48-year-old Corvera after seeing him pushing a red bike while riding a blue bike on the sidewalk.
Body cam footage released during the town hall shows Schrachta exited the car on the passenger side to approach Corvera while Rotschi said Corvera was fleeing.
As Schrachta ran north along Shotwell, he quickly saw that Corvera was holding what he believed to be a firearm, and took cover.
During the town hall, Yep confirmed that police found what they believed to be a firearm possessed by Corvera was a replica gun with blank rounds.
The footage shows officers taking cover and demand that Corvera place his gun on the ground, what sound like gunshots and bullet casings hitting the pavement can be heard, but it is unclear from the footage who is firing them.
From the footage, officers say that Corvera has a gun pointed at them multiple times. He refused to surrender several times during the standoff while telling officers to “get out of here”.
The standoff ended in an arrest made nearly an hour after the initial confrontation, with four officers in tactical gear rushing Corvera and arresting him. It was later reported by police that Corvera had suffered injuries unrelated to gunfire.
Corvera is in SF County Jail and faces charges including three counts of assault on a peace officer with a firearm, two counts of violently resisting arrest, brandishing a firearm in the presence of a peace officer, possession of a firearm with the intent to resist arrest, resisting arrest, carrying a loaded firearm in public.
Corvera has entered a not guilty plea.
Garrett Leahy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org