Veteran gets restrained outside Foreign Cinema. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken Oct. 21, 2021.

An intoxicated veteran allegedly threatened workers along Mission Street on Thursday afternoon, leading to a brief standoff with multiple armed officers. He was forced to the ground and transported to the hospital.

At about 2:30 p.m. Ibrahina, who was checking vaccine cards at El Techo, noticed the man, Gilbert, drunkenly pacing up and down Mission Street and yelling. At about 4:30 p.m., she said, he entered the building at 2524 Mission St., saying he had a gun, and threatened the woman working the desk and the building owner, who declined to be named. 

“He was yelling, he was drunk,” Ibrahina said. 

The building owner declined to speak to Mission Local. However, another woman at nearby Laszlo said, “[Gilbert] told everyone he has a gun, and stole a bunch of shit,” she said. 

Neither witness saw a gun.

Ibrahina wasn’t sure he stole anything, either. “I don’t think so,” she said.  

Eventually, Gilbert found himself backed into a space in the Foreign Cinema parklet. He did not appear to have a firearm or weapon on his person. 

At 4:45 p.m., five police officers responded to the scene, two of whom appeared to carry magazines and long guns. They stood across from Gilbert and the parklet. One officer positioned herself in a different space adjacent to him in the parklet. Meanwhile, Gilbert was drunkenly waving his hands and interacting with the officers.

“Gilbert, Let me talk to you, come here,” one officer said, trying to coax him on to the side of the parklet she was in, which was adjacent to him. “You don’t want to kill us, and we don’t want to kill you.” 

“Fuck you,” he said. “Thank you for your service.” 

“Can we talk? What’s going on today? Why are you upset?” The officer said. “Why are you upset today?”

Gilbert touched his own shoulders absent-mindedly and rested his arm on the parklet. Suddenly, the six officers swarmed into the parklet he was positioned in, and pushed him against the wall. 

They then moved all together and grabbed him outside, before pushing him to the sidewalk. One officer knelt on his back to hold him down.

“Be gentle,” someone called. 

They turned him over and appeared to handcuff him. An officer confiscated a bottle of liquor from his jacket pocket, and another officer took one more. At the end of the confrontation, officers had confiscated three bottles of the same clear alcohol. 

“Are you gonna shoot me?” Gilbert asked. 

“No one’s trying to hurt you,” the officer responded. 

Gilbert appeared intoxicated and distressed, and tearfully said, “I want to die.”

“Why do you want to die today?” the officer asked. 

“Nobody cares,” Gilbert responded. 

When the officers sat Gilbert up, his face had a red mark, purportedly from being forced to the ground. One officer  took a photo of the wound.

Gilbert is a resident of the veteran apartments on 2524 Mission St., and is well-known on the street, according to neighbors. Once on the ground on Thursday, he began saying, “Kill me, kill me.”

As he was being tied up, officers took a report and reviewed the incident. 

“It was all physical, there was no pointing firearm,” one officer asked. “Yes,” another officer replied. 

The paramedics arrived and joined the officers in tying down his legs and arms with white straps. 

“You know why you’re getting restrained here?” a paramedic asked.. “We don’t want you swinging at us anymore.” 

They tied up his arms and legs in white straps and adjusted his mask, then put him on a stretcher, where he was later secured.

“Give me my boots, give my boots,” Gilbert said, exasperated and shaking his head. “Where are my boots? Where are my boots?” 

“We got ‘em right here,” the officer responded. 

The officers repeatedly said they may implement 5150, which is code for a temporary and involuntary admittance for psychiatric treatment. 

Ibrahina said she met Gilbert about five months ago, back when “he was sober.” He started drinking in recent weeks, and now she commonly sees him intoxicated. She believes he may have mental health struggles as well, as some of the other veterans do. “He’s always drunk,” she said. 

Ibrahina said Gilbert had never threatened her before, but he had threatened other servers at El Techo before with a knife. During that incident, officers arrived and confiscated the weapon. 

The paramedic wheeled Gilbert into an EMS vehicle at about 5:20 p.m. 

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Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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14 Comments

  1. So the picture has 4 female cops and 1 male cop. I’m sure they were gentle with him.

    What was the information in the 911 call that promoted the 5 cops to show up with rifles ? Did the person say Gilbert has a gun ? We need to know so that the cops can justify brining so many guns.

    A witness said that Gilbert has mental health issues. And the cops did what ? Put a mental health hold on him (5150) . Sounds like they figured it out.

    The only element I got out of this article is that Mission Local tried as best as possible to make the cops look bad. To the knee on back, rifles in hand, rush to arrest and throwing him to the ground and describing Gilbert as just a local, non-violent, drunk. Looks to me that the cops tried to get Gilbert to comply but most likely in his inebriated state he was not going to do as asked.

    How about a thanks for at least recognizing that Gilbert was suffering a mental health crisis and giving him the help he needs. Nope not from Mission Local

    1. David — 

      If that’s the only element you got out of this article, it says a hell of a lot more about you than us.

      Yours,

      JE

  2. I hope they took him to Fort Miley, the VA, where he can get the care he needs. It is sad that he scared people but he needs help, it sounds like the officers did a good job of de-escalation.

  3. Yes, it does appear the cops responded with professionalism and followed the de-escalation policy. A few years ago, in far less threatening situations, officers shot first and asked questions later, killing Gongora Pat, Perez-Lopez, and Mario Woods among others.

  4. Nice work to deescalate. There seem to be an increasing number of psychotic episodes and bad drug trips occurring in the mission. We are lucky more of these don’t turn violent

  5. SF police did the best with 911 information. What’s happening with in-house social medical in Veteran Housing. More professional help is needed as we see this behaviour daily and still many believe it’s their right and no medical help is warranted. People we have a serious problem and the power’s that be aren’t addressing it…

  6. Sounds like the police did everything right. I know that many may disagree but my experiences with the SFPD in the past 20 years have only reinforced my positive opinion of them and the difficult work they do.
    I look forward to the day when we hear the lead officer call out, “Set weapons to stun!”

  7. Don’t take him to VA hospital at Fort Miley because federal police officers can shot him and have immunity under federal laws. San Francisco General Hospital is more humane than Fort Miley.

  8. “Ibrahina said Gilbert had never threatened her before, but he had threatened other servers at El Techo before with a knife. During that incident, officers arrived and confiscated the weapon. ”

    Would be interesting to know if there were charges brought against him or a punishment for the threats with a knife. Was there a report filed? Or did the police just confiscate his knife and let him walk? I’m don’t know the law, but it would seem a threat with a knife is a pretty big deal.

  9. How does the fact that he is a veteran have anything to do with this other than painting a stereotypical image of veterans? As a matter of fact, I don’t recall any solid reporting coming from MissionLocal on Veterans that would lead me to believe that they would have basic understanding of the US Veteran in today society. Headlines like this with scant details or understanding only harms the veteran community. SAD…and BAD… Do Vets a favor and just don’t report on em’, because this reporting on them is shoddy.

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