The Public Defender says San Francisco police caused a chaotic shootout after needlessly stopping a mentally unwell man.
SFPD held a town hall event on Aug. 16 to answer questions and show body camera footage of the Shotwell Street incident that saw four officers discharge their weapons in pursuit of Jose Corvera.
Corvera, a Latino man whose English proficiency is limited, was experiencing mental health difficulties and was carrying a "prop gun" that only shot blanks, public defenders say.
Officers attempted to stop Corvera on the morning of Aug. 6 in the Mission after he was seen riding a bicycle while pushing another one with his hand.
“This unnecessary police stop instigated and escalated a situation which endangered the public, Mr. Corvera, and members of the SFPD," Deputy Public Defender Alexa Horner said in a statement.
Horner said that Corvera has not been charged with any theft but remains traumatized and detained.
"We ask for his immediate release as the victim of a biased police stop and officer-involved shooting by SFPD," Horner said.
SFPD have been contacted for a response to the claims.
Horner previously alleged in court that SFPD had been accidentally firing live rounds at each other. The public defender said that they got this information from police reports of the incident.
SFPD Commander Paul Yep delivered the town hall meeting on the incident. He identified the four officers who discharged weapons during the officer-involved shooting as Michael P. Rotschi, Cory Faubel, Jean-Michel M’Bouroukounda and Cain Schrachta.
Yep said that two uniformed Mission Station officers patrolling the area in a squad car, Schrachta and 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 but was a replica gun with blank rounds.
Joe Burn can be reached at [email protected]