Moments after Officer Ryan Thomson shot Antonio Estrada. "Still not compliant."

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. 

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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29 Comments

  1. There were tens of individuals or so who commented on the call criticizing the actions on the police during this crisis. It is odd that you chose to quote the ONLY individual who commended the police.

    1. No. The entire article is bias- quoting the people who commented the police was the writers way of pretending he’s not bias.
      Also, reread the article and you’ll find that one woman did NOT commend the actions of the officers claiming the lack of compassion on the part of the officer and decrying there shouting at the suspect.

  2. Can you please elaborate how to de-escalate a situation when someone armed with a knife rushes at you. Knowing that this person was involved in a street fight and after he’s ignored your orders to drop the knife he’s swinging indiscriminately. Mr Mark since your headline criticizes how the police handled the situation, please enlighten them how you would have done it better.

    1. Space and time. There was no imminent threat. The cops could have created more space and time to defuse the situation that was not immediately threatening to anything but the egoes of cops who expect to be able to waltz in and control a situation.

      But a cowboy cop arrived on the scene and started shooting. Hopefully, Boudin will charge the officer who needlessly fired the shots, apparently Thomson, with assault with a deadly weapon.

    2. Whoever wrote this article is absolutely clueless, the guy was running at a cop with a butcher knife and got within 10 feet. Which the officer being targeted used less lethal rounds. What do you want him to do, run away and yell “please stop”?

  3. They used less lethal options on him before having to resort to lethal force. That in itself is an attempt at de-escalation. Because he was armed with a lethal instrument they aren’t legally obligated to go with those options but they did. This headline is an outright lie.

  4. Your headline shows the lack of impartiality of your reporting. Officers were following the suspect at a distance while attempting several times to get him to disarm. In case you do not understand body queues when the suspect took off his glasses and threw them to the ground that is an indication that he is getting ready to engage, which is exactly what he did. He forced the Officers’ to then defend themselves by using lethal force against a lethal force threat. Maybe the “reporter” should educate themselves about the facts before writing an opinion (which is what the bulk of this article is).

    1. DB — 

      Nice try, but you’re referring to the police shooting from October, in which Cesar Vargas threw off his glasses and charged at officers. At least from the SFPD’s official description, Estrada was not wearing glasses, and if he was, it would have been difficult for him to take them off while holding a knife in one hand and a frying pan in the other.

      Educate yourself with the facts of this incident, and feel free to try again.

      Best,
      Julian

  5. This is a great article but this section isn’t completely accurate:

    “ Meanwhile, 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.”

    The only charges Mr Estrada is facing are the arson counts. I’ve seen the complaint, and I also have access to the charges he was booked on, and they are exclusively arson charges.

  6. Think when your waving around a knife and don’t listen to what the police are asking you to do; you should be shot!!

  7. Thank you SFPD! Please know that the majority of us stand with you regardless of what the criminal apologists may lead you to believe.

    Can we stop blaming the police every time a criminal gets shot? There are plenty of real cases of misuse of force. Focus on those. Think about this logically. If someone tries to burn down an apartment building, then threatens people with a knife, then refuses to drop the knife after getting shot with bean bags AND shot with real bullets, you really think de-escalation is going to have any effect on someone so clearly out of their mind? Give me a break.

  8. The suspect attempting to stand up while armed with the knife (after already running at an officer with a knife) IS a threat. He is trying to get to his feet, while armed with a deadly weapon, after he already ran at an officer with that weapon. Sorry but I think that is a threat and disagree with your belief he was not a threat.

    I listened to the snowflakes that called in with a good amount from district 9. Have they forgotten this guy committed multiple crimes, including arson? I am not saying SFPD does everything correctly, but what on earth are they supposed to do? People are complaining they did not de-escalate, but verbal commands IS de-escalation! Reading their use of force policy (which is online), it says de-escalate when feasible. I would argue that if it jeopardizes public or officer safety, it is not feasible. Are you supposed to sit there and plead with this guy to drop the knife as he nears the entrance to a large mall with innocent pedestrians in the immediate area? Had he stabbed a random passerby, everyone would blame the police for not taking action sooner. With the last shooting in October, how are the cops supposed to de-escalate after the guy is running towards them with a knife? The cops ARE de-escalating by not rushing the guy or immediately shooting him. With what I saw in this video, that is what the officers did. They kept a reasonable distance, gave verbal commands, and only acted with deadly force to address the perceived threat (guy running at cop #1 with knife and guy trying to stand up again while armed with the knife).

    Listening to those callers was ridiculous. They whined the suspect was crying and nobody tried to help him. What on earth are the officers supposed to do? He may have been in crisis (or crazy), but that is not a pass or excuse to act like that! Everyone is critical of the cops, trying to tell them how to do their job, but they have zero training or experience to even imply things should have been different. SF is a shit show as the city is completely lawless, the DA will not prosecute, and CA law is already decriminalizing serious crimes. The cops here are not given the tools to do the job. Look at this incident, the taser was what allowed them to take this guy into custody but not a single SFPD officer has a taser. The cops drive cars that look like absolute crap. Remember that UPS shooting? An article said the first officers dispatched to that scene were unable to respond because their car died. They had to get a ride to the scene from I believe a passing motorist. I am sure we have all seen their 20 year old police cars. I think part of the blame is on the city. Had the officers had a taser, maybe deadly force would have never been used.

    Overall, this article is extremely anti-cop and only voicing their own perception of what happened. The title is also not accurate. I do not think the narrative completely reflects what happened in the video. Those callers are out of their minds. Let the cops do their jobs.

  9. SFPD must learn how to use something besides a gun. Clearly this man was likely on meth or severely mentally ill and paranoid. He was berserk and admit de-escalation would not work. What about throwing some kind of fabricated strong netting over him that would also disable him from seeing. I don’t believe resorting to the gun was necessary.

    1. And where would the SFPD get this strong netting from? The city won’t allow them to have tazers and the city has chosen the limited amount of tools the officers can use.
      Out of all of the bean bag rounds and live rounds fired, the tazer, which the Board of Supervisors vehemently denied to SFPD, was the less lethal weapon that incapacitated that subject with the knife.

      Also, how do you expect to de escalate an incident when this subject was seen on security camera attacking other people with the knife and frying pan and trying to actively stab people near the cable car turn around. Did you not see the civilians inside the mall directly behind the subject, with the mall door open? Did you also not see the other innocent civilians walking around the bush street within feet of the suspect? There is a time and place for de escalation, and it was just not feasible in this incident.

      1. If the job of social worker is too challenging for the police, then perhaps we need to defund the police and replace them with social workers who are qualified to handle the task at hand.

        Responding to mental health crises with policing is about as effective as policing substance abuse.

  10. “One police officer shot the man at close range, even though the man appeared to pose no immediate threat.”

    . . .

    “Estrada appeared to run toward Toomey with his knife, and Toomey fired approximately three times, striking Estrada.”

    So which one was it Julian? Did Estrada pose no threat? Or did Estrada run towards a police officer wielding a knife? Are you suggesting a subject running towards a police officer wielding a knife does not pose a threat? I’m not happy with the way SFPD handled this either, but come on, this is ridiculous. Let’s at least agree, as a starting point, that Estrada posed a threat.

  11. Apart from the debate on the shooting, can we all agree Mr. Estrada needs to be off the streets for the safety of himself and the community?

    ‘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’… I’m sure Mr Boudin’s Office wouldn’t file the charges if they weren’t valid.

    So where can we send Mr Estrada and the rest like him roaming the streets of the city putting others at risk? Or Joanne or Marcos are you looking for a roommate?

    1. Estrada has no business being in the public. Easy to criticize the police but they had no other option. He ran at them.

      Start prosecuting the dealers, get the users into treatment.

  12. I watched this video and this article does not represent what happened. I am all for de-escalation in lieu of violence. I encourage readers to watch the video for themselves, its on YouTube. I’m sorry to say, but your articles about burgers in the Mission are much better. Stick to those, they are truly entertaining.

    1. Glad you like the burger articles, and thanks for the suggestion. I’ve embedded the SFPD’s video so it’s easier for folks to access.

  13. It’s too bad that you are more interested in demonizing the police than giving a factual reason for what they did. Believe it or not, using ‘less-lethal’ munitions IS de-escalating the situation unless you have another means of dealing with someone using gasoline to set his apartment house on fire while armed with a knife, a frying pan, and a screwdriver. Why don’t you enlighten the rest of us with your plans to do so and see has it works.

  14. Too bad the geniuses at the police commission voted “ NO “ on tasers for San Francisco Police. They are liable because they are inept and made the WRONG decision. Funny we never hear them chime in on serious incidents that DO NOT involve the use of tasers they voted “NO” on. How stupid are they? This article even reveals that the use of a taser neutralized the situation. Political losers who get undeserved positions of authority. They are to blame for not allowing San Francisco police officers to have tasers.

  15. What a stupid and one sided headline and article.

    The real shame is that people think you are “the news”, you are an opinion rag/
    Another real shame, your readers are stupid and gullible and they believe what they read without checking out the facts.

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