San Francisco Police officers shot a 26-year-old man at least five times with firearms and 11 times with “less-lethal” rounds in a chaotic incident at 5th and Market streets last Tuesday that ended with a Sheriff’s Department lieutenant shocking the man with a Taser.
The man, Antonio Estrada — who was armed with a six-inch kitchen knife, a frying pan, and a screwdriver — survived the incident and remains hospitalized.
These details were presented at a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday afternoon, in which SFPD officials showed body-camera footage and other video taken by witnesses. They also shared 911 calls suggesting that prior to the shooting incident, Estrada had attempted to set fire to his apartment building using gasoline.
The interaction between Estrada and police at 5th and Market lasted about nine minutes, and body camera footage showed no police officers attempting to de-escalate the situation. Instead, two officers began to shoot at Estrada within seconds of making contact.
At the town hall, police played 911 calls and showed surveillance footage that suggested Estrada had set a fire in the hallway of his apartment building at Ellis and Leavenworth streets a little more than an hour before he encountered police at Market and 5th.
Just after 5 p.m., several people called 911 reporting that a man who matched Estrada’s description was at Market and 5th streets waving a knife and a frying pan at several men confronting Estrada.
Shortly afterward, several police officers arrived at the area of 5th and Market. According to body camera footage, one officer shot Estrada with a bean-bag gun, while another officer, apparently Joseph Toomey, provided “lethal” backup to that officer with his firearm. Seconds after the officer shot a less-lethal round, Estrada appeared to run toward Toomey with his knife, and Toomey fired approximately three times, striking Estrada.
Body camera footage then shows Estrada fall to the ground, though he refused to drop his knife.
Only moments later, another officer, presumably Ryan Thomson, arrived on the scene and pulled out his firearm, according to his body camera footage. After only moments of giving Estrada commands to drop his knife, Thomson shot at Estrada apparently twice as Estrada attempted to stand up. Estrada fell to the sidewalk again. Estrada did not appear to pose a threat to Thomson or his fellow officers when Thomson fired, according to the body camera footage.
“Subject still has a knife, shots have been fired, giving commands — still not compliant,” Thomson said into his radio immediately after he shot Estrada.
In the following minutes, more than a dozen police arrived on the scene and formed a semicircle around Estrada as he lay on the ground. They yelled commands for Estrada to drop his knife as officers continued to fire bean-bag and foam batons at him.
Around nine minutes into the interaction, a Sheriff’s Department lieutenant arrived on the scene and, with a crowd of police behind him, shot Estrada with a Taser and shocked him. At that point, Estrada apparently dropped his knife and police rushed up to Estrada to take control of him.
Several San Francisco residents called into the meeting and reacted to what they saw.
One man, who did not identify himself, commended the police officers for their handling of the situation, as well as the department’s handling of the Oct. 10 incident in which police shot and killed 21-year-old Cesar Vargas on Otis Street.
With regard to last Tuesday’s incident, he said, “you guys did a great job up until about the discharge from” Thomson. That, he added, “could have been a little excessive.”
A District 9 resident named Lawrence remarked that details of the incident were similar to the Vargas shooting, and asked Chief Bill Scott “what specific steps will be taken to ensure this will never happen again?”
“We have to look at this, and we have to analyze every aspect of this investigation — if we find that there are gaps in either training or gaps in equipment or gaps in how we deal with people in crisis,” Scott said.
Scott said the police department’s crisis intervention training has been “paying dividends” in reducing incidents in which police need to use deadly force.
But one caller, who said she was a resident of District 7, immediately shot back at the chief, noting that she saw no de-escalation in all of the body camera footage the police presented.
“We heard multiple officers shouting commands at the victim who was sobbing and weeping hysterically,” the woman said. “That was one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen.”
Toomey and Thomson are on paid administrative leave, according to the police department.
Meanwhile, police said, Estrada has been charged with a slew of crimes, including assault with a deadly weapon, exhibition of a deadly weapon, resisting a police officer, arson of a structure, and possession of a flammable substance with intent to set fire to a structure.
As with most police shooting incidents, it may take years for officials to determine whether Toomey, Thomson, and the other officers who used force acted lawfully. Right now, the incident is being investigated by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Independent Investigation Bureau, the San Francisco Police Department, and the Department of Police Accountability.