Distrust and anger prevail as Police Chief Bill Scott and others sit and listen
After police attempted to get armed-robbery suspect Adolfo Jesus Delgado-Duarte to show his hands, the 19-year-old fired one shot from the trunk of a Honda Civic last week on Capp Street. Ten of the police officers surrounding the black Honda Civic responded with 99 shots, hitting the suspect 25 times, Capt. Valerie Matthews told community members at a meeting at Cesar Chavez Elementary Monday evening.
At a Town Hall meeting Monday, 200 hundred community members, including his brother, sister and father, remained angry and unsatisfied as they listened to the police give their account of the incident that began last Tuesday night around 11 p.m., when two victims flagged down a patrol car to say they had been robbed at gunpoint.
Many insisted that the officers did not do enough to de-escalate the situation that ended in the 19-year-old’s death and a block riddled with bullet holes and broken windows from the ricochets.
“You are nothing but murderers,” said Duarte’s brother, Victor Torres, during public comment, as Police Chief Bill Scott, Mission Captain Gaetano Caltagirone, and Matthews sat in silence. “I fucking hate you guys, I swear!” he added, looking tired and overwhelmed by anger and sadness.
Torres was joined by Duarte’s father, Jose Delgado, and Duarte’s sister, Patricia Torres, who largely sat in a trance as police recounted the events and showed body cam footage of the events that ultimately led to their family member’s demise.
Police Chief Scott apologized to the family for their loss, and stressed that the investigation of what exactly happened is still underway.
In the footage police showed, a young man gets out of the Honda Civic and walks north on Capp Street. He later runs back and jumps into the trunk of the same car.
The officers ordered the car to stop, while more officers responded to the scene. The driver of the car, identified as Victor Navarro Flores, surrendered after officers ordered him out of the car. Meanwhile, Duarte could be seen in the trunk, she said.
Officers ordered Duarte to show both of his hands and to get out of the trunk, first in English and later in Spanish through a megaphone. When he did not leave the trunk, officers shot a beanbag round.
Soon after, Matthews and, Duarte pointed a 9mm handgun at the officers and fired a shot, at which point 10 officers fired on the young man, who died at the scene.
A third person, identified as Christina Juarez Alfaro, got out of the car and was detained.
Navarro Flores was charged him with one count of second-degree robbery and has been on conditional release from jail, while Juarez Alfaro has been released with no charges.
The 10 officers involved in the shootout are on paid administrative leave. Their names are being withheld for another four days.
Police showed five videos that appeared to support their version of events but threw community members into a blind rage. After one of the videos in which officers are seen firing on Duarte, the community erupted, chanting, “Asesinos! Asesinos!”
Throughout the course of the evening, most community members who spoke during public comment challenged the notion that police did everything they could to lure Duarte out of the trunk peacefully. Although police said they were open to taking questions, community members who went to the microphone spoke to police or turned to address the community.
“Where was the de-escalation?” asked Marjory Rodriguez, one of Duarte’s young friends without pausing for an answer. “Why was a translator called so late?”
The body-camera footage shows officers initially ordering Duarte out of the trunk in English, and only later in Spanish.
Duarte came to the United States from Mexico as a child and began his schooling at Bryant Elementary. He graduated from Life Learning Academy high school on Treasure Island. As a child, he spent much of his time at the Boys and Girls Club on 21st and Alabama. In the year leading up to the incident, he worked at the Metro PCS store at 20th and Mission streets.
Some who spoke said that police did not spend enough time working with Duarte. They said police could have used community members’ voices to persuade him to come out.
“Adolfo was one of my kids,” said Susanna Rojas, a Mission Neighborhood Centers employee who worked with Duarte as a child. “I was there — you could have called me.”
Ivan Prado, who worked with Duarte as a 10-year-old, said he had encouraged Duarte to participate in SFPD’s wilderness program, during which he hiked with SFPD officers on Treasure Island.
“I asked him to challenge the narrative that exists between police and brown young men,” Prado said.
Prado noted that he frequently encourages young people to sign up for SFPD’s community-engagement programs. “So when you ask us to engage with you in the community, and we ask you to engage back, call us in for those moments,” he said, referring to the incident. “Don’t just call us in for the show!”
Others challenged Scott who, throughout the nearly two and a half hours of public comment, listened silently, taking notes and sometimes nodding in recognition.
“When is this gonna stop, Scott? This is on your shoulders. It’s under your watch now,” said Rafael Picazo, a Mission resident.
“Mr. Scott, we are extremely disappointed in you,” said Mesha Irizarry of the Idriss Stelley Foundation, which was founded in memory of her son, a 23-year-old man who was killed by police 2001. “Enough talk about the kind and nice police department that engages with the community.”
She noted that she’s heard a lot of talk of reform but has seen no changes. “It’s a shame we have to talk to you over and over again,” she said.