A protester shouts at BART police during a demonstration outside the Civic Center BART station, August 15, 2011.

Dr. Rupa Marya, who treated Charles Hill, a 45-year-old man who was shot and killed on the Civic Center BART platform over the July Fourth weekend, has written an open letter saying she will join the Monday protests.

In the letter, sent to local media, she writes, “It is hard to watch our civil servants (police) brutally handle a person and their body when I spend my time and energy as a civil servant (physician) honoring the dignity of that person….” (The full letter is posted below.)

It’s not clear what impact this will have on Monday’s protests. Anonymous, the hacking group behind the last three Monday protests, reminded supporters today that they should be focused on the BART police and not on BART’s decision in July to prevent a protest by cutting off cellphone reception. “Let us be perfectly clear: THE BART OPERATION AND THE PROTESTS SURROUNDING IT SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON THE CONTINUING BRUTALITY AND UNACCOUNTABILITY OF THE BAY AREA TRANSIT POLICE,” its communique says.

The document urges the protesters to stay aboveground and not to protest on BART platforms.

Dr. Rupa Marya has worked as a physician and professor at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. She’s also a singer and guitarist for Rupa & the April Fishes, a band that traces its roots to the Mission District.

The letter from Dr. Rupa Marya:

Dear San Francisco,

I am one of your local physicians and have taken care of many different kinds of people during the past 9 years of my appointment as an internist at UCSF, where I have worked at SF General Hospital as well as at the VA and the UCSF campuses. San Francisco is a surprisingly small town, and when you spend enough time in the health care industry, you come to recognize many of the city’s residents. You hold their stories and watch over them, in the hospital when they are ill and in the chance occurrences of running into them on the streets, in the market or painting the town red. It is an honor and great privilege to take care of the people of this city that I love so dearly.

Last month, I learned that one of my former patients Charles Hill was shot and killed by BART police. Per the police, he was armed with a bottle and a knife and had menacing behavior. Per eye witnesses, he was altered and appeared to be intoxicated but did not represent a lethal danger. I remember Charles vividly, having taken care of him several times in the revolving door which is the health care system for the people who do not fit neatly into society. Charles was a member of the invisible class of people in SF–mentally ill, homeless and not reliably connected to the help he needed. While I had seen him agitated before and while I can’t speak to all of his behavior, I never would have described him as threatening in such a way as to warrant the use of deadly force. We often have to deal with agitated sometimes even violent patients in the hospital. Through teamwork, tools and training, we have not had to fatally wound our patients in order to subdue them. I understand the police are there to protect us and react to the situation around them, but I wonder why the officer who shot Charles did not aim for the leg if he felt the need to use a gun, instead of his vital organs. I wonder if he possessed other training methods to subdue an agitated man with a knife or bottle.

I feel this situation quite deeply. It is hard to watch our civil servants (police) brutally handle a person and their body when i spend my time and energy as a civil servant (physician) honoring the dignity of that person, regardless of their race or social class, their beliefs or their affiliations. I know it is not my job–nor the police’s job—to mete out justice or judgment of a person’s worthiness. It is also hard because Charles has no voice, no one to speak for him now that he is gone. It would be easy to let this slide and move on with our busy lives, as we all struggle to make ends meet in this expensive city during a recession. I believe this situation  shows us how powerless we all feel to some degree.

I feel outraged and am trying to find the best ways to express it–through creative outpouring, through conversations. I would like to lend my voice to the growing protest of the BART police’s excessive use of violent force and know that weekly protests are being organized on Mondays until demands are met for BART to fully investigate the shooting of Charles Hill, disarm its police force and train them properly, as well as bringing the officer who shot him to justice. The media is portraying the annoyance of the protests to commuters more than the unbelievable horror that an innocent man was shot dead by the force that is meant to protect us. I don’t want to upset commuters or be a nuisance. I would like to be part of educating and not letting this slip under the proverbial rug, in honor of Charles Hill and in order to help prevent something like this from ever happening again.

I will be present at the peaceful demonstrations on Mondays in front of the BART Civic Center station, not to prevent commuters from getting home, but to educate a population that may need to pause and think about the value a human life has and the kind of San Francisco we want to live and work in.

Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.

Respectfully,

Rupa Marya, MD

Jessica Lum

An admitted technophile, Jessica Lum navigates the Mission with Google Maps, but has only really come to know the neighborhood by wandering on foot, looking at murals, and occasionally watching the guy...

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52 Comments

  1. Thanks for publishing Dr Marya’s first-hand account of how she and other professionals successfully deal with a difficult population.
    Her letter is also a reality check; we San Franciscans seemed so buried in our own pressing needs that we’ve become hardened to the needs of the disadvantaged. I know, it’s tough for us; everywhere we look we see more and more homeless, as though they’re flooding in from outside the city.
    I don’t have an answer, but I want to thank and acknowledge Dr. Marya.

  2. Sorry, he did not follow police orders to drop the knife and was winding up to throw it (which he actually did in the video released). Lethal force was completely justified. The police officer has every right to protect himself and the public in general from further harm, and Mr. Hill is the only one to blame for this situation. Good job BART PD – from a regular BART commuter.

    1. With everything I have in me I disagree with the person above. He threw a knife and therefore deserved to be shot to death? He was in a wheel chair. I saw the video footage and it was horrifying and terribly sad. He did not deserve to die. He needed help and our system yet again failed someone else. What happened was tragic and you are blind and ignorant to the bigger picture.

      1. Yes, throwing a knife at a cop is justification for deadly force to be returned. He was not in a wheelchair. The video footage did not show the assailant, only the cop and the knife thrown at him. I don’t know what video you are seeing in your head, but it isn’t reality.

          1. Well said, G! When I typed in “cop brutality” into google, I got 3,400,000 results.

            Some cop below wants to talk about the “bad experience” I had. Uhh, bad experience? How about EVERY encounter with EVERY police by EVERYONE I know and care about being a bad experience? How about seeing videos of women punched in the face, or minorities beaten for no other reason than the thrill of it? How about the guy who was maced to death in a local jail? How about the local suicidal soldier who made the mistake of walking outside with a gun, when he didn’t even know his wife had called them? Yup, the cops shot a green beret. How about every homeless person in Portland, Oregon killed by cops? Eugene? How about a lot of different stories from my personal life and those from the everyday news. How about the homeless guy they beat to death, or the man they killed for not paying his bus fare? There is a reason people like me have began to speak out. There is a reason I no longer feel like sitting idly by and letting cops think they are doing the right thing by beating and killing people, and it’s because there’s too much of it and it is wrong. These cops are under trained, and over excessive. There once was an unarmed man in a tiny town full of hopelessness (unless you are a cop)called Coquille. This man got drunk and got belligerent and got paralyzed from the neck down because of it. Excessive force, but, of course, none of the cops were found guilty of it. None of these cops pay any price for their crimes.. oh, except for that one guy who killed the dog. That family got 3 million thanks to his actions.

            It is my hope that through protest and demand these officers practices and thought patterns will change from being Robocops to being keepers of the peace. That they will at least have to think before, and be accountable for, pulling the trigger, instead of doing it so haphazard and frivolously. Maybe then they will one day have my respect again. For now, I’m more afraid to call them than I am to take care of myself, and my own situations.

          2. The vast majority of innocent victim getting shot are shot by criminal and violent thugs harming other people. Those are the people that the cops try to protect us from by either putting them in jail so they can’t victimize people or if the need arises for the police to protect themselves, then shooting them. We should be thanking our lucky stars that there are men and women out there who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect law-abiding citizens from thugs and violent criminals.

          3. @Jessica … “or the man they killed for not paying his bus fare…” This is the kind of blinders you wear … if you’re talking about Kenneth Harding, the guy who shot and killed a pregnant woman in Seattle and then was *detained* for not paying his Muni fare. He was not shot for not paying his muni fare, he was shot at for shooting at police. And the fact is, it turns out that balistics test showed that he shot *himself* and was not shot by cops. After watching the band of hipsters parading down Valencia St. in protest of this young thug’s suicide, I just want to wretch at the blindingly idealistic and naive views of you and your ilk about the role of thugs and criminals, and the role of police in society.

          4. And when you type “cop hero” in Google you get 34,900,000 results. So good experiences outnumber bad experiences 10 to 1. Obviously Jessica Heitman is is a bad actor if she’s had a bad experience with EVERY cop and EVERYONE she knows has had a bad experience with cops. Using her logic, if Google shows there are 10x more Hero cops than Brutal cops, she must either be a brutality magnet or be hanging around a bunch of criminals.

    2. even with a knife, a gun should not be drawn or fired. I am friends with police officers, and the Kevlar vests they wear are meant to take knife attacks. They are also trained to take a knife out of the hand of an individual. Unless a criminal has a gun in their hand, a cop cannot draw their gun unless a gun is present. So to give them the benefit of the doubt shows how uneducated you are in the system.

      1. Mad haddy, a kevlar vest is not intended to stop a knife. Printed on the front or “strike face” is a big sticker that says “warning, not designed for bladed weapons. May not stop a bladed weapon attack.” And I’m not trained in crazy knife fighting. Furthermore, I an draw my firearm in a LOT of situations, like searching a building, pulling over a wanted car, or when someone is armed with a knife. Don’t tell me I cannot when I very well can.

        1. You can… but should you be allowed to? I think that’s the all important question and the point that Mad Hiddy and the rest of us taxpayers who own your paycheck are trying to make. Give us an ever loving break. You are not Batman the Super Sleuth. You are flat footed keystone cop whose authority has been far overstepped, whether legitimately or not. Rules change, and based on the zeal with which you are defending your rights to cause lethal harm to the populace of this nation, I’d say WHEN the rules change, you’ll find a different job as you won’t be able to “roll with it” as you said below. Clubs and rape whistles to go with your bobby hat, that’s what you need as you are admitedly not trained or able to handle yourself in a civil manner when presented with anything close to an uncivilized situation. As your contemporary pointed out in his worthless diatribe, I have never had to use my skills in real life, and there is a reason for that… BECAUSE I USE MY HEAD BEFORE I USE MY WEAPONS! I’ve never encountered a situation in which I’ve needed the assistance of a gun, or a cop, or the use of my hand to hand skill set. I bring water to the fire, not gasoline. And before you begin your Superman routine of “I disarm people every night while you sleep- protecting the city from bad guys derp da derp” let me tell you, I’ve been in some pretty hairy situations myself! I worked security at a night club and have had bullets flung my way by people who were escorted out on more than one occassion. I’ve wandered the dark alleyways of Burnside (where the police like to go and to murder the homeless) and have walked out the other side unscathed in spite of dangerous encounters because I exercise my ability to talk through a situation before I go off all half-cocked and violent! Who knows, maybe if I weren’t “required” to act civilly, and if I was “allowed” to throw down on any and all people I deem a threat, maybe I’d be a bully too. I got an idea for you, Anon, why don’t you strap on your utility belt, pin the badge to your chest, and go earn your money. Get off the computer and quit trying to defend an indefensible position. If you’re trying to convince any on here that your kind (pigs) are justified in your criminal actions, then you’ve failed miserably. All you have succeeded in doing is showing everyone in this chat room how unworthy you are of your gun. Untrained=unworthy

  3. Okay, so perhaps I’m biased, but here goes. I’m a cop, a local cop, but not a BART one. In response to the ever present “you coulda shot him in he leg” argument. No, no I can’t. No cop can. Those who tell us to do that have never handled a firearm, particularly a pistol with a short barrel, while stressed out, having your muscles trembling, heart racing, and aiming at a moving target who intends to do you harm. Meanwhile, you have to be responsible to every round you fire. So if I aim for the leg, and miss, and my rounds skips off the ground and injures another person, I can be held civilly liable for their injuries, as well as tried criminally for being a dumbass. To those who claim “well, cops are trained better,” that’s garbage. I am required to qualify every 6 months, firing 60 rounds from various fixed distances at a stationary target. That’s it. So for “advanced training,” get that outta your head. Now do I shoot more on my own time? Sure. Do all cops? No.

    Knives cause serious injuries, and nobody wins a knife fight. My agency is not armed with tasers, so I cannot comment on their use. However, per every standard agency practice who does use them, a taser is always used by the presence of a lethal cover officer (IE one ready to fire a real gun at you), and a taser is not used to incapacitate a lethal threat to you. People see the taser as the “be all and end all,” and a reason why cops should be disarmed. Well tasers don’t always work, you get one chance before you have to painstakingly reload, and they fire approx 21 feet. Yea, not the best weapon out there.

    If I intentially shoot for your leg or arm, I can be charged for ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ Nevermind the fact that if I fire at your chest I will most likely kill you, that’s just the way things are.

    Listen Doc, I feel for you, I really do. But I don’t tell you how to treat your patients when they come to PES, don’t tell me how to react to a criminal matter. And yes, Mr. Hill was involved in a criminal matter. Regardless of his mental state, the police have to handle the criminal matter first, and the mental health second. Kinda hard to take someone in on a psych hold when they are armed with two bladed weapons and do not follow commands. I am not required to prolong the encounter to reason with an armed subject, and I am also taught that anyone within 21 feet, armed with a knife or any other bladed weapon, is an immediate deadly threat. That distance was actually just recently upped to 30 ft.

    To all the naysayers: You have the right to protest, and I’ll defend that right. However I’d like you to do two things. 1)go fire a handgun at a target. Be calm, go shoot some rounds. Then have a friend come up and wrestle you for a full 60 seconds to get your heart pumping. Go shoot again at the target, and aim for a 4-6 inch wide space. Think you can hit it?

    2)have that same friend hold an object simulating a knife. Have them stand 21 feet from you. Imagine you have a holstered gun at your side. Now tell the friend to charge at you whenever they feel like it, but at a point when you do no expect it. Pretend you have to draw that weapon, aim, and stop the threat, while the person runs at you. If they make any contact, you lose.

    BART police are trained. Very well trained in fact, after the New Years Eve incident. They receive more training, actually, than CA POST requires, and more than several large departments in the immediate area. You deem it excessive force Doctor, yet you have no reasonable experience or training to dictate what that is. Perhaps the fact that he was still exhibiting such a decreased mental state was a result of inadequate force on your part? Like you commenting on the BART police, I have no grounds to comment on how to treat your patients. The shooting has been investigated by multiple agencies, BART in-house and outside by the SF DA’s office and SFPD, among others. They are highly trained, and clearly should not be disarmed considering the areas where they work.

    Yes, this is an unfortunate incident for all involved. Perhaps if Mr. Hill had maintained his mental state via meds that I’m sure he was provided, at no cost to him, this would not have happened. But don’t blame the BART police. They didn’t start the fight, they simply finished it.

    1. Mr. Hill didn’t pull out the knife until the ….. BART officers arrived on scene. I wonder why? Perhaps it was the fact that he has been left to die by our … system and is thus now forced to deal with constant police harrassment – I would pull my knife out too. Also, if you are homeless, you NEED a ….. knife to survive.

      police dont go after the real criminals, Capitalists, who created and maintain and exacerbate the inequality in our system. Nope. Instead, they go after the masses on the bottom trying to survive for crumbs, everyday wondering how they will eat or get the medicine or treatment they need.

      disband BART PD. NOW.

      1. This is my personal favorite post. Pigs, indeed! This post says it all. Disband ALL police departments and let the people of the towns decide who enforces their rules! Half the men need work anyway.

      2. Jesus, sounds like you should be in a mental ward yourself. I’d love to see you defending yourself against the gangs of armed thugs that would be roaming free if there were no threat of law and order. I’ve wondered who these disillusioned protesters are. You would never dream of protesting the countless murders by thugs and criminals (there have been three in the Mission in the past week -( why don’t you go protest out in front of the MS13 gangbangers hanging out on Mission St?). This post is the perfect example of what’s wrong with San Francisco — that there’s a small but vocal wing of delusional nutcases who really believe that society would be better of as an anarchistic environment where the strong rule over the weak.

    2. Really, Anon, I could only read about half of your nonsense before responding. Look dude, you exemplify all that has gone wrong with our police force… “I am not required…” This is a Rule Utilitarian concept in that in your small mind the rules are what dictact right and wrong… In other words, if you you are “required” then this man would still be alive. Right? If the rules change, then lives are saved. As an avid martial artist, you can’t tell me personally that a knife is a lethal weapon, as I know about 14 different ways to disarm you. Point in fact, I know about 26 different ways to disarm a …. cop as well, but because I’m scared … of the brutality that has come out of our police force, I tend to obey all commands, much like a sheep. Is this the America you’re driving for? Did you sign on for your duty to herd people back and forth? The badge on your chest should symbolize harmony in our society. It should say “we are here to protect you against extreme agression” but instead it has become a symbol for law-abiding citizens to fear as much as a criminal. Most of what your kind considers a “lawful command” are nothing more than your own egos, and if a person wasn’t scared of death, and had the knowledge of their constitutional rights, or a 24 hour camera to always watch them in conjuntion with a constitutional rights attorney on retainer, then MOST of the injustice we see coming from our nation’s bully force would end up with you people being sued, imprisoned, and, at the very least, out of a job. Let’s examine that last one… What skill set do you possess that does this country any good? If the police were disbanded today, what could you do to help further civilization? It’s a tough question,……cuz frankly, my 11 year old son could’ve disarmed a man with a knife without shooting him…….Why don’t you look past your rules for a minute and ask yourself why you are here… what utility do you serve… (edited)

      1. Wow, where do I begin? Lets start with the fact that no department issues “stab” vests as they run well over $1000 and most standard issued police vests are meant for a certain caliber bullet to stop balistic projectiles. Yes, you can have body armor which can stop low velocity bullets but be able to stab it with a knife. I am aware of only the corrections department which issues “stab” vests for sharp pointed objects. Good ones are usually bulky.

        To my martial arts friend who knows many ways to disarm an armed subject and in fact police as well. My question to you is how many times have you done it in a real situation where your life and the life of others were not at stake? Where you actually tried and succeded disarming a violent thug who will not hesitate to kill you instead of going back to jail for rape or murder? How many officers have you actually disarmed?

        Training is one thing and real life is another. MANY people have advanced training and these people are not always on the good side of the moral spectrum. Police must assume that everyone has this level of skill initially until circumstances dictate different.

        No officer is trained to draw their weapon as a “show of force” or to scare someone into following commands. One only draws their weapon as a last resort when their life or the life of another is in danger. Yes, holding a knief is a deadly weapon and many officers have been killed by someone holding a knife. These officers assumed they would win the fight because they had a gun V. knife mentality and sadly, they paid with their lives in order for the rest of us to learn these lessons.

        Society is not perfect and hence every profession has their imperfections and bad seeds such as teachers, schools, priest and so forth. What does a police officer bring to civilization? Well, being a cop is what I do, not what I am. many are fathers, sons, mothers and daughters. Being a police officer requires an extreme amount of COURAGE and even more PATIENCE. Someone that can go into any situation and take charge, make informed decisions with the presented facts available and the moral fortitude to do what is right. Even if you are scared and outnumbered. we SPEAK for those who are too afraid to do so and we give the terrified a VOICE.

        Our government has constantly slashed social programs and society has been acustomed to police taking the role of social services. Society failed Mr. Hill, and the police have been sucked into filling the void of counselors, social workers and mental health workers. Police departments are designed to respond to emergencies, apprehend criminal and deter crime. This is getting harder everyday as police are now swamped with responsibilities that other parts of the local governments can no longer handle. There has been NO increase in staffing while we have absorbed more case and workloads. This is a receipe for collapse and no officer needs to be stabbed or beaten to defend themselves because unlike anyone else who can just leave the station and continue with their lives, get home on time and not miss their favorite tv show, the cop has to stay and deal with the situation. I do not train others on how to defend themselves because not everyone can afford martial arts classes. I am actively defending them. I respond to a robbery or burglary in progress. I am the one who jumps in and breaks up the brawls and bar fights. I resond to the awful domestic violence scenes and give battered women a voice, a chance and hope. I also have the right to go home to my 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter.

        People, Mr. Hill did not deserve to die but none of you were there and seeing only a part of the situation via video footage does not tell us the full picture of the events that lead to the shooting. You are quick to judge and rush to a hasty conclusion. In lamen terms, you are monday morning quarterbacking. You have not seen society at it’s worst, you just READ about it.

        Who failed Mr. Hill? The whole system, the whole wheel. Lets not be quick to blame a single peg carrying all the weight when the rest of the pegs are not even working.

        1. Wow, reality check is a great name for yourself. I can’t even read your entire comment without wanting to vomit, I mean really vomit! You are defending the use of extreme violence! No officer may be trained to draw their weapon as a show of force (that’s as far into your bs as I could force myself on the first shot) but rest assured, many a cop draws their weapon as a show of force, training or no training. I’m sure you would’ve stood up for the Gestapo had you been born in Germany circa 1930. I’ll try and stomach more of your nonsense later but to answer your question regarding my training, no I’ve never had to use it in a “real life” situation. Training aside, as is pointed out so poignantly in a post below this, is a complete lack on the part of the police. Just because they aren’t trained DOES NOT GIVE THEM THE RIGHT TO KILL! I say we give the cops rape whistles and billy-clubs, maybe put some bobby hats on them. I for one have never had an incident in my 33 years where I needed the assistance of a pig, sorry. The more people like you that stand up for this behavior, the worse it makes the police out to be. Are you one of those types who would’ve stood up for slave owners too, just because that was the law of the day?

        2. So I got through another segment of your austere and redundant bs, and all I can say is that the bad seeds in other professions do not end up with Kelly Thomas (only the most recent that comes to mind) dead on a gurney. Sure, teachers molest, doctors kill (kevorkian was a death with dignity dr, and if you’ve ever seen a person suffering thru the final stages of cancer you’d sing a different tune), but they aren’t given segway to act this way. Officers aren’t trained to draw their weapons any more than a teacher is trained to molest, but it happens, more and more frequently for the former and not the latter. The sad fact is, it’s become an US vs POLICE state for most of the citizens of this country. Doesn’t that speak to you on some level? Doesn’t seem a bit odd that your profession is so despised? This has got to work on your psyche and cause a bit of an overreaction in how you deal with people. To know that you are hated so thoroughly by a law abiding citizen whom you have no domain over as he is not breaking the law has to effect the way you deal with your life… it’s psychologically inescapable. And buddy, let me tell you, we citizens would get along just fine without you, so just remember that the next time you strap on your gun belt. WE DON’T NEED YOU OR WANT YOU!

          1. Pigs And Other Animals written by a reformed cop who attests to the fact that cops love brutality, they do think civilians are slime, they cannot wait to use their new weapons and horrifically violent moves, read it!

        3. All of this to defend shooting a man with 2 knives? Me doth think the lady protest too much.

          There is never a reason to act the way contemporary policemen do. You are not giving a voice to victims, you are making victims out of those with a voice. Disorderly conduct as long been a favorite of police to use against those with a voice. Now you’re just arbitrarily killing people, and suffering next to nothing consequences. But, if a person kills a cop, whoa doggies, prison forever.

          Who needs this imbalance in society? Not me. I choose something else.

    3. You Are right about one thing, you most definitely are bias.

      I can find plenty of accounts where a cop shot to wound to protect himself and others and faced no charges; furthermore, I started shooting when I was around 6 years old and have shot at times when heartbeat was racing and adrenaline was flowing and I most definitely can still choose between a death and a wound shot and they are not 6 inches apart as you claim. The distance between ones abdominopelvic cavity and their knee can be measured in feet not in inches unless you are shooting at a legally qualified midget or the person is in the fetal position. The actions of Charles Hill just go to aid in the theory he was mentally ill like many other homeless people we ignore. He needed help not murdered by some hothead that obviously can’t handle himself under stress especially when it has been confirmed that at least one of the officers at the scene had non-lethal weapons on his person at the time of the murder.

      I saw a show on the military channel the other day showing the training seals undergo to keep them cool under stress. Tests where they would be made disoriented with a black hood on their head and a carbine in their hands. The hood is jerked off and they are instantly thrown into a situation they know nothing about and the person/s in front of them may be coming for blood or may be an innocent bystander and if they can’t handle it and shoot the innocent they fail.

      No, Charles Hill may not have been innocent but his death was most certainly not justified either. If you can’t handle yourself and your sidearm properly under stress then you need to go find another job requiring very little education like a rent-a-cop with a club and mace or maybe mall security but please, I beg you, leave the protection of citizens to people that can properly handle themselves and really want to help.

      There are plenty of people telling doctors how to do their jobs but I won’t digress into that discussion as it is meant for another place. Doctors have to go to school for years just like someone with a Juris Doctorate (judges and lawyers); however, any flunky with a GED can go through academy and become a cop in no time at all but soon as they wear a badge all of a sudden they get a huge God complex thinking they rule the world and know better than everyone else…

      And one other thing Charles Hill was a mentally diseased homeless man not a thug with his clique!

  4. Shooting a man to death for throwing a knife? I don’t need “reasonable experience” to know that this is excessive force, and the same overreacting behavior exhibited all over the country in similar incidents against innocent citizens by over zealous (and in some cases steroid enhanced) police. Some actually get in trouble for their insane behavior, too. Take the family who received a judgement the millions against the dept. that employed the man who shot their friendly Labrador for no reason. The doctor’s letter was full of compassion, from the heart, and intelligent. The cop’s letter has a tone of snideness to it, or is that just me? Listen, copper, we citizens who you swore to protect and serve do not want people shot and killed for throwing knives at you. Your life is no more precious than the one you took. Perhaps you need to stop seeing civilians as vermin scum to achieve this change in thinking. You are not super human just because you wear a badge and carry a gun. It’s beginning to look like you’re more super reprehensible than anything else. Stop trying to justify your brutality. It isn’t working. Leave the living alive and put your gun away if there’s no reason to kill them, like there wasn’t here. I’m sure myself and 2 friends could have subdued the disorderly man without lethal force, and with martial arts training. Using your gun against an unarmed man who was otherwise doing no wrong shows cowardice.

  5. On a side note, cops don’t receive “martial arts” training, or MMA, or any of that. We get trained in a small number of control holds for unarmed subjects. So this notion that I can Bruce Lee kick the knife away isn’t realistic.

    I was not trying to be snide in my response, only to inform.

    Mr. Hill was apparently armed with 2 knives. Yea, he threw one, and had another in his hand. So that means he still presents a lethal threat. If you have some form of advanced training that means you don’t perceive a knife as lethal, then by all means join the police department and effect change from within. We’d love to have your skills.

    Nothing says I have to get stabbed or seriously injured before I shoot someone. I only have to reasonably believe that I am in danger of death or serious bodily injury. You may think I’m hiding behind this, but that was upheld by the Supreme Court.

    One last thing. Protect and serve is the motto of the LAPD, not an oath. The oath I swear involves upholding the laws of the Constitution, federal, state, and local laws, and protecting against enemies foreign and domestic. I choose to protect you, and I choose to serve you. If you are unhappy with what you feel is inadequate police services, well I apologize. I do encourage all of you who feel this way to do a ride along with your local department, and see things how we tend to see them.

    Mr. Heitman: I do wear a camera on duty. I have no problem with that. I don’t need to be a cop, I wasn’t always one, and can go back to my old job at any time and still make a decent wage. I do this job because I like to. Have I shot anyone? No. Have I used force that you may consider excessive? Probably. Any use of force looks ugly. And I do far more than simply keep the ultra violent from harming good people. If that was all police did then you wouldn’t need so many. I respect your opinion, and I know there’s no argument that I can give that would change your mind. If you are as skilled as you claim, seriously you should offer classes. I know I’d take it.

    1. police need to be trained in martial arts period. Knocking someone senseless because he is resisting is absolutely ridiculous. I train BJJ for the physical and mental aspects of it. I could easily submit someone who was squirreling around without tasing them or punching them in the face. My 3 year old nephew who is a yellow belt knows how to submit people better than the most police. I train with cops too and they’re all cool (imagine that)BJJ strips away your ego. You all should petition to be paid to train in a non striking martial art and a disarming one like Krav Maga. I pulled 3 people off my friend not a single one of them went to the hospital, not a single one was bloodied and all that I hurt was their pride and made them very sore the next day when they sobered up. There are non violent ways to handle people. Killing someone has gone from a last resort to happening anytime a perceived threat is there.

      1. @Tobias, very poignant comment. In the academy I trained in, the dept decided to stop attending because of the presence of certain individuals (self included) who have a record. There are some pretty cool cops in the world, I used to play basketball with the jailors who housed me during my stay. I was warned several times, and acted on that warning, not to tell anyone that we had an active relationship as they would lose their jobs… I had the utmost respect for those two men, and they I, but to think that they couldn’t “hang” with me because I had stayed in their jail at one point is absurd. To think the training of a dept in life saving techniques (non lethal BJJ maneuvers) was stopped because I made a few mistakes in my youth is the same thought process that divides the police from the population. I have a great book called Pigs and Other Animals by Roger Martin which details the mindset of the Fullerton PD. He is an ex cop who makes no excuses and admits that most cops do look at civilians through the scope of a gun.

    2. So, out of my comment, all you took was the violent parts… another sign of the lack of integrity in our police. What of the question regarding the “rules” sir? If the rules changed and you were required to, at the very least, take a nick from a homeless man’s blade before shooting him, do you think this would save lives? What are a few stitches compared to a human life, exactly? Again, I say save me the poor lil cop speech because you signed up for this. As for teaching, who’s to say I don’t. In fact, my team has taught hand-to-hand tactits to the police in a town in Oregon, all the way up to the point where the Dept decided that the lessons they were learning were counter productive, in that WE THE TEACHERS were learning the weaknesses of the people who are paid to bully us. How’s that for an oxymoron? Come to my studio, learn for free, then insult my integrity. There’s no argument, you’re correct, that can change my mind because this is a matter of human rights. Your kind would’ve turned your weapons on my kind in the 50’s (and you did) when my kind were defending the rights of African Americans… The rules changed as a result of civil disobedience. Maybe you police should remember history and look to the future with the thought in mind that “one day the rules may change.”

    3. I take issue with the fact that police are, only, taught to shoot at body mass (chest region), which usually is fatal. I know a lot of the anger, from Mr. Hill’s death, is from the manner in which Oscar Grant’s death happened and was cover up, albeit somewhat unsuccessfully. The Fullerton beating death does not help calm the public’s fears, either. I know some of the anger may be misguided, but from a poor person’s perspective; cops get away with murder, all the time. Additionally, go after the Federal Reserve, if you want to protect us from “enemies, foreign and domestic” Cheers

      1. @Robert, I feel a certain sense of vindication knowing that a random stranger does indeed share my anger. “Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everyone’s power and that is not easy.” Aristotle— My problem is, I see stupid and want to fix it… when I fail, it brings on a certain amount of righteous indignation.

  6. Ya know what, if the rules change, so be it. But you cannot predetermine whether that so called “little nick” you want me to take would cut a nerve and disable me, or be a full on stabbing, or cut my throat. That’s like saying I should get shot at “a little bit” before I return fire.

    I follow the rules given to me by my agency and by the state of CA because if I deviate from them, I can lose my job and open myself to unprotected liability. I carry deadly weapons openly in public, I have to follow set rules, because I have an immense amount of responsibility.

    Would I have necessarily shot Charles hill? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But no, I wouldn’t take a nick first. If the rules one day change, well then I’ll roll with it. Would it save lives? Maybe. Would it drastically increase disability cost and serious injuries? Naturally. So I don’t foresee this happening.

    I don’t get paid to bully you. You clearly have no idea what I do during my shift. Human rights apply to me also, and police do get to protect themselves from injury, just like you do. Mr. Hill made a fatal choice that day. Yes it could have gone different, but it didn’t.

    Do a ride along, then insult my integrity. I haven’t insulted yours, I would expect the same in return.

    We won’t ever see eye to eye, so can we agree to disagree?

    1. No we can’t agree to disagree because human life is worth more than a paycheck and a few stitches. We can’t agree to disagree for the reason that slavery isn’t something we can agree to disagree on. BTW, the below response is from my sister Jessica Heitman and is riddled with questions par excellence. You do nothing for society other than enforce traffic laws. If a stoplight had legs and a gun, it would do more than you. Agree to disagree, doubt it, not until human rights are met can we agree to disagree. You have human rights too? Well you also volunteered for a job, no body forced you to become a cop. As such, you have to deal with the dirty grimey parts of society, but that doesn’t give you segway to shoot on sight for fear of your own life. You put yourself in harm’s way as part of your job. If you don’t like that, then get a different job. But for the love of God, quit trying to justify use of deadly force when there is no justification. We the People, who you work for, have had enough.

    2. @anon, I noticed that you said you sport a camera, when on duty; how often, if ever, has the video made it into evidence. All I ever see is officers trying to block video cameras and confiscating video cameras. I have never heard of an officers video being produced in court. In fact, I have submitted a Notice to Preserve Evidence, and Request for Discovery of several officers audio tapes and they failed to produce same; incidentally, the charge was dismissed, accordingly. Cheers

    3. Thank you for posting something that ought to remind all of us that police officers are by and large responsible, but ultimately human and try their best to protect everyone and enforce the law. Don’t let the crazies here get you down, most of us recognize that being a cop is a hard job with very hard decisions and a lot of responsibility. Thanks for your service.

  7. First of all, “anon,” where is your name? Not having the courage to display a name behind an ideal automatically reduces my respect for the author of any post.

    I first responded on this comment section because the contrast between your hideously “informative” post and the doctor’s plea for human compassion is the reason I want to wretch on every cops shoes I ever encounter (but I better not do that, I might get shot).

    Two points from the above statements: why is it that every cop anyone ever encounters these days is a meathead, over zealous, mean type of person? Why is it that cops love to threaten, lie, yell, and intimidate you for even the slightest infraction, like a California stop at a 4-way intersection that is otherwise empty? Why is it that I was threatened with a gun for muttering 8 little words to somebody during the cop’s “investigation?” I was an unarmed person with a small child next to me and the cop tried to intimidate me with the threat of a gun, screaming orders at me. Know what I did? I called 911 and told them a cop was threatening me with a gun and asked if that was legal. Guess what, it wasn’t. That particular officer was transferred to my small town for brutality in LA, of all things. He also took my mother to the floor in a choke hold, turning her face purple, in her high heels and work dress, all because the wind caught the door as he was leaving and it hit him in the elbow. He thought she slammed it on him. I guess she should have been glad she didn’t get shot. My mother was made to apologize to Mr. Wonderful, the cop.

    Second point. I ask myself what’s with all this shooting? When did it become lawful for a man with a badge with little education to be the be all end all in the decision to end someone’s life? Cops don’t have to go to college. They don’t have to take courses in ethics or humanities. You say you could be something else besides a cop? Well, it couldn’t be a doctor. A doctor must have compassion and integrity, nerves of steel and extreme ability for intelligent behavior. Imagine if any other single dept. in this country operated in the way cops do. Imagine if doctors were allowed to use lethal force on their patients for being out of line.

    1 knife, 2 knives, it makes no difference to me. Cops used guns on a man with a couple of knives. They were probably dull pocket knives used to cut his cardboard house and signs. The fact that cops so readily “end the fight” when the subject has a weapon in their hand, pointed at the cop or not, is ridiculous. Hundreds of stories of excessive force pile up all around the innocent citizens of this country. It’s a tinderbox, waiting for a matchstrike and I for one refuse to let cops think of themselves as heroes for being unable to think outside the box at all and come up with a solution outside of deadly or excessive force. Teachers are my heroes. Doctors are my heroes. We do not need so many cops at all. There is a town who recently got rid of their entire dept. because they were tired of police corruption. I say we get rid of cops and let citizens do the work, and face the consequences when deadly force is used. I’d like every cop who kills to prove how their life was endangered, and can tell you what- as a jury member I would never agree that throwing 1 or even 2 knives at a group of officers was deserving of deadly force.

    Cops need to calm down. Imagine if parents were to say “I can only spank my child as a form of disipline. I am unable to critically thin, or come up with any other form of solution to the problem.” Or, as I said, if doctors were allowed to administer lethal doses to those patients they considered unruly, or a threat, for sometimes doing nothing other than running away from treatment.

    This man was not invisible, he was remembered by this doctor, and I love her for it. She is my hero. We are watching those cops who use the homeless as target practice. I thank you for letting me know that any geek out of high school can get a badge and carry a gun and kill people at will, with no special training, as you keep emphasizing you don’t have.

    Gosh, that just makes me feel so much better!

    1. You are too funny. Are you talking about the same doctors, many, not all, that are sleeping with the insurance and drug companies? The same ones that make medical decisions based on insurance costs? The same ones that will not see a patient with medical? I guess you have never heard of kavorkian. Are you a doctor? I hope not because you have NO idea what you are talking about. You make blanket statements and generalize the entire police profession for what happened to you and your mommy? (“why is it that every cop anyone ever encounters these days is a meathead, over zealous, mean type of person?”)

      This is how I know you are not a doctor: “They were probably dull pocket knives used to cut his cardboard house and signs.”) You assume with no factual information in an attempt to sound smart. Spare me.

      No cop will use there true names. Our information is protected on our license plates and driver’s license. When you are followed home by drug dealers or violent criminals make death treats against you and your family, you can have the same benefit.

      As far as your “little education” comment, EVERY department has their own set of hiring standards. Some require a 2 year degree and others require a 4 year degree like me. I was born and raised in San Francisco, graduated from USF and lived in the Mission District. I was no geek. I played basbeball, and was on the city championship footbal team. I also went to 3 different proms with 3 different dates. Many cops I know are the same but I will never generalize as everyone is different.

      You had a bad experience and now you hate all cops and view them through your unique prizm. Getting stabbed or shot at is an occupational hazard, not a job requirement. I am also human and every human life is important. But when do we say enough is enough. We cannot always turn the other way, and taking a life is sometimes needed. How many more people would have survived the holocaust if hitler was killed in 1939 instead of 1945? What if the 9/11 Hijcakers were taken out on 9/10? While tragic that 20 lives were taken, how many more saved?

      I am sure you feel elated over your email but that is because that is where you stop, at emails and blogs. When you are asleep, I am awake, disarming people and truly saving lives. Never makes the news…..

      1. As you are another cop, your point makes no difference to me. I hate you all. You can die tonight for all I give a crap about. You’re being asinine. Doctors being in bed with insurance companies has nothing to do with what I said. You’re all worked up, aren’t you, cop? Yeah, that’s what you all are. I decided to stop commenting on this website when I saw that the editorial staff “liked” the previous cop’s comments as “pick of the day” or whatever.

        All WE THE PEOPLE know is that you UNTRAINED, UNEDUCATED, UNETHICAL cops need to CALM DOWN and quit using lethal force, or excessive force for as many situations as you possibly can. The rest of us LAW abiding citizens have learned to use HIGHER thinking, and morals, and standards to TALK our way out of situations. It’s called brains, and we have and use them.

        Your welcome for your paycheck. Hopefully one day you won’t have one for harassing people for a living. I think you have to be sick in the head to want to harass people for a living anyway. Reality Check, Anon, real names, please?

      2. puh-lease! comparing yourself to the people that took out Hitler is absurd! It’s not one experience that has my sister and I turned forever against your kind, it’s a lifetime of watching abuse from your breed. Pigs and Other Animals is a book written by a former Fullerton Cop by the name of Roger Martin, he wasn’t scared to tell the truth about your true agenda… “I am awake, disarming people” right, and shooting up steroids, and buying hookers, and bullying 50 year nurses (my mother) with your chokeholds. Nay, it’s not one bad experience, it’s one bad experience after another after another after another. The police should and will be disbanded some day for the violent and criminal behaviors you espouse.

      3. Oh my moronic god. You are actually espousing 9/11 rhetoric? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit at the thought of you waving your flag. 9/11 was allowed to happen by the people who give you your commands. Thermite bombs were planted throughout towers 1,2 and 7 (yes, that’s right, tower 7 dumb ones) to aide and abet it’s free fall into oblivion.

        If you had taken out the terrorists on 9/10 then the government would cease to be functioning and you wouldn’t have a job anymore. I smell revolt. Anyone else sick of the increased violence against us after the BS attacks of 9/11? Watch Zeitgeist this year, everyone, instead of waving your flag and hating brown people. Your government killed those people on 9/11. You can watch them fall from the towers, hear the firemen in disbelief of the devastation, they cannot believe not a piece of wreckage bigger than a telephone keypad could be found. You can hear the architects of the building tell you that the towers were designed with these very types of air strikes in mind. You will be told what all of this leads up to. You think you have guts? Watch it. You will know that your government will kill you, me, and everyone else whenever it suits them, just like these cops will do. Be careful about having a bad day, or a bad moment, lest you be the latest casualty of police brutality. It can’t go on forever. Someday, this type of behavior will stop. Let’s stop it now! I protest the actions of these incorrectly acting police officers and I hope they are disarmed permanently. I think of the soul that they killed and hope they will be held accountable for their actions.

      4. oh, please. I am so sure that every night you are doing so many things that are far more important than me or anyone else. Your attitude and tone throughout your post speaks for the fact that you cops believe you are far and above anyone else. On the contrary, I do things that are important to my life and the lives of many others on a daily basis, I spread love. I actually don’t even believe you, that you have a 4 year degree. Nobody with that type of education could possibly be as small minded and belligerent as you sound. It’s really too bad that you have kids.

  8. Ordinarily, I think this would be a very hot topic. But I think the relative silence in here should be taken to mean that Josh is speaking for a great many of us, and he is doing and excellent job at it. If any officers are not grasping what he is saying, then you are part of the problem. I know you’ve been taught otherwise, but when such a large percentage of people are vehemently against you, it’s worth at least asking “could I be the one that is wrong?”

    1. No, the relative silence on here means that people who take the BART regularly don’t want to engage with people like Heitman, who actually want to see police departments disbanded. I’m not happy that the man was shot, but he did attack a police officer with a weapon. I’ve heard this man referred to as “unarmed” — disingenuous.

      Perhaps some of you followed the new stories in 2009 of passengers getting stabbed on the Muni, including an 11year old boy, by a crazy homeless man? Call me up when there’s a protest for that. Until then, I will take my chances with the police.

      1. Hmmm, well to take a quote from the cop’s thread, “you had one bad experience…” so you think all this is justified? Untrained, unethical, immoral, cops are all around you, all day long… they even admit to being untrained in this thread… what’s one stabbing compared to the Oscar Grants of history? Furthermore, if it weren’t illegal to carry a weapon for protection, how many people would it take to get shot in the face for trying to rob you before crime went away? Why should the cops own rights to protection? It’s not about disbanding, it’s about reeducating! And for every PTSD Iraq War vet who comes home to pick up a badge, you get a trigger happy dictator who treats every situation like it’s Hitler, Saddam, or 9/11, rather than a citizen of their own nation. Anna, I’m glad to hear (or at least I assume) you’ve never had a horrible experience with a foul cop, but I guarantee you are in the minority. It’s impossible not to be a criminal when it’s us against them. I’m no criminal/drug dealer/agent for destruction, yet I’ve had more AR15s and Glocks pointed at my head by the cops then I care to count. I’ve been watching the cops do harm to honest citizens since I was 4 and witnessed my Grandpa get pulled from his vehicle by LAPD and given flash light therapy BECAUSE HE HAD RED EYES AFTER WORKING A 14 HOUR SHIFT! The lawful commands you sheep follow without so much as a BAAAAAAAH in protest are what fuel the Gestapo of America. Grow up, get a clue, quit being blind to the injustice around you, or move somewhere where you aren’t SUPPOSED to be free.

      2. PS, look up Gaston SC and Oak Hill Fl- in fact, just Google “Disbanded Police Departments”… They’ve both disbanded their respective Departments and seem to be doing just fine.

      3. PPS, you know, the obvious is sometimes the hardest to see (forest from the trees, so to speak) but did the presence of your precious cops prevent the stabbing the 11 year old? Obviously not… Even more obvious, how does the MUNI bus stabbing of an 11 year old (had to look up the story) relate to the shooting of a homeless man? According to what I’m gleaning from your rhetoric (are you a cop’s wife) Oscar Grant deserved to die, as did Kelly Thomas… These are just two that come to the top of my mind, but how many homeless don’t have family or doctors who remember them? Portland Or is a cess pool of violent pigs taking aim at the indigent because they won’t be missed. Shame on you lady. My profile picture is the face of Kelly Thomas and your beloved police protection.

  9. I think I’ve said all I should say on this subject, and will from here on ignore this site… more importantly, the bleating of the two pigs who stand in defense of this garbage speak more than I can possibly (after all, my point of view is common sense) in that they both admit to being undertrained— that’s the point, people, if you lack the appropriate training and can’t handle themselves in the face of stress, then you SHOULD NOT be allowed to carry a lethal weapon. That’s all… except for one last thing, any one standing up on the side of the police, please, take a long hard look at my profile picture and do a little soul searching— Kelly Thomas is the man you’re looking at, and the brutality he is wearing on his face is the result of your police protection.

    1. No, you’ve said FAR too much on the subject. We’re tired of your windbag responses to the posts of a thoughtful and dedicated police officer. Go back to sleep.

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