Surveillance footage shows moment when Officer Sterling Hayes shoots Jamaica Hampton.

One of the two San Francisco Police officers who shot Jamaica Hampton on Dec. 7, 2019, is currently under disciplinary review for his prior role in the beating of an incapacitated man with a baton last June. 

The Department of Police Accountability, the department’s watchdog, charged Officer Sterling Hayes with use of excessive force for the 2018 beating of Jeffery McElroy. The DPA sent its findings to Chief Bill Scott in June, and it’s unclear when — or if — the chief will discipline Hayes. SFPD spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak declined to comment on Hayes’s situation, citing it as a “personnel matter.” 

In addition to allegations of excessive force, a witness testified during McElroy’s criminal trial that Hayes laughed about the beating incident with his partner. Body-worn camera footage reviewed by DPA investigators allegedly caught him fist-bumping a fellow officer following the beating. 

Despite the pending disciplinary decision, Hayes went on to become an officer who trains freshly graduated rookies from the SFPD’s academy. And, in fact, when Hampton’s shooting took place on Dec. 7, Hayes was training his partner, Officer Christopher Flores, a rookie undergoing his first-year field training at Mission Station. 

Flores, who is still within his probationary period, could face swift and severe career repercussions in the wake of the shooting. Scott can release him unilaterally, without a Police Commission hearing, if the chief finds that when Flores shot at Hampton he contravened department policy. Scott did this in the case of rookie Officer Christopher Samayoa, who shot and killed carjacking suspect Keita O’Neil in Bayview in December 2017.  

But the details of the most recent case are different, and may well take a different course. 

On Tuesday night at Cesar Chavez Elementary, SFPD officials told a largely unsympathetic crowd of community members that Hayes and Flores together shot at Hampton seven times, striking him three times and hospitalizing him. This came on the heels of a brief foot chase precipitated by Hampton assaulting Flores with an 8½-inch Grey Goose vodka bottle.

Both the body-worn camera footage of Officer Hayes and surveillance footage from a nearby hotel shows Hayes moving to head off the running Hampton before firing six times at him, striking him multiple times. Surveillance footage also shows Flores shooting at Hampton as Hampton was down on the street and attempting to get up — though at that point Hampton had been shot multiple times and appeared incapacitated. 

Whether the District Attorney decides to charge the officers criminally — and whether the SFPD believes the officers should be disciplined — could take months, if not years, to determine. In the case of the rookie Flores, this time period may be smaller. Samayoa was “released” by the department four months after he shot O’Neil in 2017. 

“Stop Fighting!” 

The excessive force charges looming for Hayes did not prevent him from earning the role of a training officer. As Mission Local reported in October, Hayes and his partner, Officer Michael Marcic, stopped Jeffery McElroy in June 2018 for riding his bike on the sidewalk near 16th and Mission streets. 

They undertook a pat-down search of McElroy’s body — which the Department of Police Accountability found to be out-of-policy because, at that point, McElroy had been compliant. They followed by searching McElroy’s bag, and Hayes and Marcic discovered a handgun within. McElroy bolted down Mission Street, ending up within a residential garage on Natoma Street at 15th. 

Officers said that McElroy brandished a metal chair at them — and that is why Marcic tackled McElroy and punched him in the face. Marcic testified during McElroy’s July 2018 criminal trial that McElroy was resisting and the force was justified. (The judge tossed Marcic’s testimony because he found him to be “not credible” based on video evidence.)  

During its subsequent investigation, the SFPD’s watchdog, the Department of Police Accountability, found that “subject’s hands were flailing while [Marcic] was on top of the subject trying to unsuccessfully gain compliance of the subject.” 

At this point, “Hayes strikes McElroy in the leg with his baton at least four times,” the DPA wrote of its review of body-worn camera footage. “Hayes yells at McElroy several times, “‘Stop fighting!’” as he is striking him. While Hayes is doing this, Marcic continues to punch McElroy.” 

Body-worn camera footage reviewed by the watchdog agency’s investigators also showed “fist-bumps” between Marcic and Hayes “after the subject was in custody [and] on the ground moaning in pain.” The DPA said there was “insufficient evidence” to charge the officers with inappropriate conduct based upon these fist-bumps. Both officers denied they were celebrating the beating — but, rather, “it was in recognition of their accomplishment of finding a gun that would no longer be on the streets.” 

A witness, however, testified under oath during McElroy’s July 2018 criminal hearing that the officers “were fist-bumping and laughing and pointing at this individual here [McElroy], and I saw high-fiving as well.” Judge Stephen Murphy dismissed all charges against McElroy following the hearing. 

Hayes’s potential discipline issues for alleged excessive force didn’t seem to factor in for SFPD higher-ups as they vetted him and greenlit his application. It requires “a positive personnel history,” including “supervisory recommendation, performance evaluations, and disciplinary records,” Andraychak, the department spokesman, wrote. 

At present, Andraychak added, both Hayes and Flores are assigned to “nonpatrol duties.” 

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14 Comments

  1. Hayes did well on this one, so I give him credit for that. I’m really not seeing “the police act badly” narrative that is bring pushed here. But if you think what they did was wrong, pressure Boudin to prosecute.

  2. We need to see Flores body cam to see show how he approached Hampton. Why wouldn’t that one be released?

    It doesn’t appear Flores was qualified to be in the situation he found himself in.. Hayes should’ve made sure he was the one that made first contact. He blew it there.

    But Hayes did come back and save Hampton’s life. Hampton was likely a goner if Hayes hadn’t told Flores to stop firing. That last shot was reckless.

    1. Wait – wasn’t Flores the one assaulted trying to get out of the car?
      And wasn’t it his cam that got slammed to the ground?
      And wasn’t it Hayes that fired the 6 shots; the last was from Flores as Hampton tries to get up. Again. Not quite sure it was reckless – ,maybe he could have approached swinging a club.

      Or do I have that reversed?

      At any rate, I’m ALMOST willing to give SFPD Tasers at this point. Strict rules must apply – but how do you deal with a perp that won’t stop and that still has a weapon. And these guys weren’t numerically superior, as in Mario Woods. This was two guys trying to capture someone who was very much alluding capture (except he forfeited escape by running back into the street to confront the cop – instead of the.pretty clear escape route down 23rd.

      1. After re-reading the article and watching the video again, it is Hayes fighting the suspect while in the car, as he was apparently the passenger. I retract what I said earlier — Hayes did apparently make first contact.

        Hayes is kicking Hampton from the middle of the front seat. Flores came around the car from the driver’s seat and engaged Hampton, sustaining the injuries and losing his nightstick. After the foot pursuit, Hayes fired the seven shots, and Flores fired the final shot after running up.

  3. This entire article, clearly meant to tarnish the Officers, sounds like a commendation to me. I’m glad these men are out there looking out for residents. Fighting thugs should be beat into compliance. What else will work, harsh language? Tasers would be helpful, but no, not allowed. The Officers are responsible for their own safety and that of bystanders and they have to escalate force as needed. This all sounds needed and sound to me. Thank you Officer Hayes and Flores, don’t let the screaming cop haters get you down. Fine job, men.

  4. Rosh and Marcos,

    Gotta agree with Marcos on this one.

    Looked to me like the guy was trying to commit suicide
    by cop.

    Red flag is that SFPD hires people like this training officer
    as Lateral Transfers and then tasks them to pass along
    their violent skills.

    2 of the 5 cops who shot Mario Woods to death were
    LT’s who had shot someone in their previous departments.

    h.

    1. h — In my opinion: Hayes shoot wasn’t great, but it does pass muster. Where he fucked up was deciding to walk away to radio in ‘shots fired’ before securing the suspect. He just walks away as the trainee Flores charges forward, gun drawn. That cost Hampton another life-altering bullet, and will likely cost Flores his job.

      Rosh

  5. What kind of a decent guy attacks the cops as soon as they open their door? Looks like Hayes did the right thing this time.

  6. During this particular incident, it seems like the police did the right thing. That’s not always the case with police shootings, but the immediate outrage is unjustified in my opinion.

    1. Why haven’t you given equal press to the suspect Hampton? What is his background, his criminal record, his employment status? He had just broken down the door of a family, walked the streets breaking business and auto windows. He was told numerous times to stop but instead attacked a police officer with a broken bottle. He ran and continued to disobey orders after ALL of his criminal acts. He attempted to attack the officers again. They had exhausted every method attempting to stop Hampton. He continued to attack and they used their last method, shooting him.

      Why don’t you mention that these two officers have taken a job that no one wants; to protect our citizens, to maintain peace in the streets of the Mission, all while risking their lives? Unfortunately the thing they fear most happened but I don’t fault them for protecting the community from an intoxicated/drugged/mentally ill (pick one, two or all choices) man.

      You have failed to give us Hampton’s background, his criminal record, his employment, current living situation, his family, what he does for his community? Come on man, give us both sides of the story and stop trying to make the police officers the enemy. They did their job; protecting the community.

      I walk the streets of this city with mace in my pocket. Our streets are not safe with mentally disturbed, drunk, drugged people everywhere. They attack with no notice. I’ve seen it. You want to fault officers who exhausted their options in stopping Hampton for the safety of the community and yes themselves. Hampton was at fault, not the officers. These officers deserve props for protecting our community. What has a Hampton done for the community?

      1. Well said. ML gets bent out of shape when people criticize the articles for being so one-sided (specifically—anti-police), but how about just giving us a fair and balanced news article. That’s what real journalism is. Otherwise you’re just the flip-side of a Fox News.

  7. This article is a joke, completely biased, it’s apparently okay for someone to break into a house, break into cars, and assault a police officer.

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