"Stop! Stop! Stop!" Officer Sterling Hayes (right) told Officer Christopher Flores (left) as he shot Jamaica Hampton as he was crawling on the ground. Photo taken from surveillance footage.

The two San Francisco Police officers who shot Jamaica Hampton, a man armed with a glass bottle on Mission and 23rd streets in December, critically injuring him, are returning to regular duty, the San Francisco Police Department said Thursday.  

Officer Sterling Hayes, a field training officer at Mission Station, and Officer Christopher Flores, a rookie, “are being returned to duty in the Field Operations Bureau,” David Stevenson, a department spokesman, wrote in an email.   

The “field operations bureau” can mean any district station, such as Mission or Tenderloin stations. The decision on which station or stations Hayes and Flores are being sent to, as well as their roles, “has not been made at this time,” Stevenson wrote. 

Following the shooting of Jamaica Hampton on Dec. 7, both Hayes and Flores were assigned to “nonpatrol duties,” per a department spokesperson.   

Chief Bill Scott, together with the SFPD’s “return-to-duty” panel — composed of higher-ups who assess an officer’s fitness for duty if the officer shoots someone — made the decision leading up to Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting. Scott announced the decision to commissioners Wednesday night in closed session.   

Speaking in general terms, the Chief considers all facts available at the time that a decision is made,” Stevenson wrote regarding the decision-making process. “The Chief will also take into account the status of administrative and criminal investigations into an officer-involved shooting.” 

“The process also includes consideration for the well-being and due process rights of the officer(s) involved in the incident,” Stevenson added. 

On the morning of Dec. 7, Hayes, a training officer, and Flores, his trainee, stopped Hampton on the corner of 23rd and Mission streets. Police allege, and video footage shows, that Hampton moved to attack Hayes and subsequently assaulted Flores with a glass bottle. A foot chase on 23rd Street ensued. 

As Hampton ran in the direction of Hayes, the officer fired at Hampton six times, striking him twice. While Hampton was crawling on the ground, incapacitated, Flores fired once at Hampton, striking him in one of his limbs.   

“Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!” Hayes shouted at his trainee Flores after Flores fired the final shot at Hampton. 

The District Attorney subsequently charged Hampton with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault on a police officer, threat to an executive officer, and vandalism. 

Hampton’s left leg was amputated last Thursday. Danielle Harris, the deputy public defender representing Hampton in his criminal case, said at Wednesday’s Police Commission hearing that her client has also suffered “massive nerve damage in his left hand and arm,” his dominant side, and a portion of right thumb was amputated. Harris confirmed that Hampton was shot in his right and left legs, and in his left arm. 

Harris, who is also the director of public policy and the lead homicide attorney at the Public Defender’s Office, told Mission Local on Friday that she was “dismayed” to hear that Hayes and Flores will be “back on the street after they severely injured Jamaica and endangered everyone in the area that morning.” 

“The decision to put these cops back on the street suggests that SFPD condones the use of excessive force against unarmed persons, devaluing the safety of those it serves,” she added. 

Harris argued to commissioners Wednesday night that Hayes and Flores should not be returned to regular duty. “Officer Hayes proved he could fend off Mr. Hampton without shooting him, and without injury to either one of them,” she said. “Mr. Hampton was not attacking Officer Hayes when Officer Hayes shot him.” 

Moreover, she told Mission Local that she was “extremely concerned” at returning the rookie Flores to duty. Flores, she argued, shot Hampton “when he was down on his knees, critically wounded, unarmed, and non-threatening — which is why Officer Hayes ordered Flores to, ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’ and has repeatedly said that he gave those orders because there was no threat at that time.” 

Flores is still within his probationary period, and he could have been summarily dismissed by Scott. 

Both Hayes and Flores’s actions are still subject to investigations by SFPD’s Internal Affairs Division, the District Attorney, and the Department of Police Accountability. A determination on whether Hayes and Flores’s use of deadly force followed department policy — and whether they will be disciplined — will be decided by SFPD’s Firearm Discharge Review Board. 

This will happen “at a later date,” according to Stevenson. 

Julian Mark

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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13 Comments

  1. If these police had better training, no guns, and cooler heads, Jamaica would have both legs, and no nerve damage on the left side of his body.

    If the Chief thinks what happened is acceptable then he has to go.

    We need leadership that is passionate about keeping the streets safe from criminals and minimizing harm done to the community by the police themselves.

    Zero-tolerance for this type of behavior should be the norm.

    The Commanding Officer of a warship loses his job, if while asleep, the Officer of the Deck runs it aground. The Navy is better due to this culture.

    Why should we expect any less for those who swore an oath to police our communities?

    1. No guns?? Better training? Jamaica would have his limbs if he had not attacked two officer, very simple. Lol!!! Please move to Sweden. Clearly you are unaware of the reality and violence on American streets. These officers did a wonderful job and deserve an award!!

      1. Attacked two officers with a bottle.
        Chased after one of them who was running away trying to create some distance.
        Refused repeated commands, at gunpoint, to get down.
        Ran towards one of the officers still holding the bottle.

    2. you are tainted in your beliefs, ever been a victim of violence yourself? if you were then maybe you would understand that criminals deserve what they get. You can’t just go around causing these kinds of problems in society making it unsafe for others to go about their day. It isn’t fair. You want to rally behind criminals who get what they put out be my guest, but the minute your a victim of a crime, I swear you will be asking the law to be on your side to stop the person that did you wrong.

  2. Yeah, Public Defender Harris is spinning. Her client was technically not “..attacking Officer Hayes when Officer Hayes shot him.” because the Officer shot Jamaica Hampton, who was running towards Hayes…to attack him. If Jamaica Hampton would do this to Police Officers while he was just “armed with a bottle”, imagine what he would do to your or someone else just walking down the street and he thought you looked at him in a way he didn’t like. Crazy enough to attack Police Officers, then no sympathy for you when you lose a limb as a result. Hampton off the streets makes the neighborhood safer.

  3. Sfpd cops did a great job here. Very proud of them. Sorry they were both attacking and one injured by a maniac. Thank you for getting him off the streets.

  4. Since Boudin decided not to charge those teenagers who shot and killed that lady in the TL because she was armed with a bottle and milk crate, I’m thinking the officers here are in the clear. Self-defense, you know.

    All joking aside, thanks SFPD for keeping us safe from people like Hampton. We appreciate it.

    1. can’t find anything on the milk crate crime you refer to. only could find that a man attacked a woman with a milk crate. i looked at the usual sites that report san francisco crimes. can you refer me to a site that reported the milk crate crime you are talking about?

  5. Things like this are happening all over the country. One would hope an example would be set by some department soon.

  6. > “dismayed” “endangered everyone” “excessive force” “unarmed persons” “devaluing the safety of those it serves”

    Has Danielle Harris not had a chance to review the footage? Because if you do, you’d have to be fucking blind or downright disingenuous to come to the conclusion that officers were not justified in their response. I’m all for investigating excessive use of force, but this is not it.

    ACTUAL BODY CAM FOOTAGE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6PyRMZnq2E

    Is Danielle Harris completely blind & insane, or just simply disingenuous? Please don’t make this an excessive force issue because this isn’t one. The evidence is pretty clear here. I feel bad that this dude lost a leg, but come on, officers have families too.

    1. I think him losing a leg is a wake up call to change his life and to stop making excuses for it before it gets out of control. He needed a reality check and this was it. He scared an officers face and for that God removes a leg. All these foster kids can learn a valuable lesson here about building a life for the better instead of getting high and causing crimes.

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