Mission Station Captain Gaetano Caltagirone talking with residents before a meeting at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center. Photo by Kaitlin Benz

Some 50 residents attended Wednesday night’s town hall meeting in the Castro to hear from the officers and officials investigating the Halloween night officer-involved shooting at 18th and Diamond streets.

“What we want to accomplish today is transparency for this investigation,” said District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy.

Officers lined the walls of the small room. At the head of the room were photos of the location of the shooting, the weapons used in the shooting and where the weapons were found.

Captain Valerie Matthews of the SFPD major crimes division described the details.

Just after midnight on Nov. 1, two foot-patrol officers assigned to the Castro were alerted to a suspicious vehicle. A witness walked them to the vehicle, occupied by one person. One officer ordered the suspect out of the vehicle, and that’s when the suspect began shooting at both officers. One officer returned fire and struck the suspect. The suspect was detained and taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Sesar Valadez, a 32-year-old Hispanic male from Hayward, California, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, discharge of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest and an outstanding warrant in Alameda County.

Sheehy said police had key witnesses who had not yet been interviewed. Other information is being withheld, including the names of the officers involved and the body-worn camera footage from the event.   

SFPD Mission Station captain Gaetano Caltagirone reassured everyone in the room that he was doing everything he could to make people in the community feel safe. He is committed to increasing the number of foot patrols in the area covered by Mission Station, in the Castro specifically.

“They want to be on the beat and that’s what you want — officers who want to be out there on the street,” Caltagirone said. “This way they get to know the people, the residents, the community and the bad guys.”

People in the crowd clapped.

Public comment was brief, and many stood up to thank the officers for the visibly increased presence of foot patrol officers in the Mission.

“I wish we didn’t have another incident in the Castro on Halloween, but we did,” said a lifelong resident of the area. He ended the public comment by echoing the appreciation of the rest of the crowd: “keep up the good work,” he said.

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  1. Many officer-involved shootings, especially those most controversial, like the shooting of Luis Gongria, involve needless officer-initiated escalation. This is one of the reasons the SFPD has adopted de-escalation in their new use of force policy. It is not enough to report kumbaya between cops and community. If the residents didn’t ask about officer-initiated escalation in this case (did the officer approach the car? how close?), then the reporter should have.