Surveillance and body-worn camera footage presented at a police town hall Monday afternoon showed four San Francisco police officers firing weapons at Jose Corvera, a suspected bicycle thief who appeared to be armed, during a recent standoff on Shotwell Street.
Surveillance camera footage shows Corvera, 51, riding a rentable city bicycle on Saturday, Aug. 6, while rolling a red bicycle alongside him. It is 8 a.m. when a patrol car tries to pull up next to him. Police said the two officers who first pursued Corvera had received reports of a stolen red bicycle.
The video shows that when police tried to approach him, Corvera began to flee on foot, and pulled out what appears to be a gun. The officer chasing him on foot can be seen suddenly turning back toward his patrol car.
After running part way up Shotwell Street from 18th Street, Corvera can be seen on surveillance camera footage crouching behind a parked car and pointing the weapon toward officers. Several police officers engaged in a nearly hour-long standoff with him, during which shots were periodically fired.
Commander Paul Yep on Monday went through a full chronology of the events that the SFPD believes transpired, before acknowledging that Corvera was, in fact, carrying an imitation gun that fires blanks.
Nonetheless, Corvera, who is being held in the county jail, faces seven felony charges for having a firearm, and two misdemeanors. His charges, according to jail booking records, include three counts of assault on a police officer with a semiautomatic firearm, two counts of threatening an officer, resisting arrest, exhibiting a firearm in the presence of a peace officer, exhibiting a firearm to resist arrest, carrying a loaded firearm.
The four officers who fired their weapons were identified as Officer Cain Schrachta and his training officer Michael Rotschi from Mission Station, and officers Jean-Michel M’Bouroukounda and Cory Faubel from Bayview Station.
During much of the 53 minute exchange, an officer can be heard asking Corvera how he can help him and to put the gun down. Corvera can, at times, be heard responding, telling the officers to leave.
Corvera is not visible in the body-worn camera footage, and officers mention various times that they can only see the gun or the top of his head. However, loud bangs that may be coming from Corvera can be heard.
According to the SFPD’s chronology, Schrachta and Rotschi, who made the initial contact with Corvera, fired their guns after Corvera apparently fired at them.
“Drop the gun on the floor, or you will be shot,” bellows Schrachta. He repeats similar commands for several seconds before shooting.
Officer M’Bouroukounda, who arrives later and is armed with a rifle, fires more than 10 minutes later, shouting that Corvera is pointing a gun at him.
“He’s got it pointed in this direction,” M’Bouroukounda shouted, before aiming and firing his gun through the windshield of the police car. After he shoots, the other officers can be heard asking each other whether it was an officer or Corvera who fired.
More than 40 minutes into the standoff, Faubel, who took over for M’Bouroukounda, appears to fire his rifle several times.
Soon after, Corvera, who is still apparently crouched behind a car, throws his gun into the street; it goes off as it slides across Shotwell Street. Officers approach and arrest Corvera, who is compliant.
As he’s being handcuffed, Corvera tells officers repeatedly to get his phone which is nearby on the ground, and mumbles what sounds like, “For nothing, you take me … I didn’t do nothing wrong.”
Deputy public defender Alexa Horner, who is defending Corvera, said in a statement that her client has mental-health issues, and that the incident was the result of a biased stop. Corvera was not seen committing any crime, Horner noted, and even now, he has not been charged with theft.
“This unnecessary police stop instigated and escalated a situation which endangered the public, Mr. Corvera, and members of the SFPD,” Horner said. “A police interaction can be frightening precisely because an unnecessary stop of a person with mental health challenges and language needs can quickly escalate.”
Yep said on Monday that three of the four officers who shot at Corvera had completed Crisis Intervention Team training, and only one of them had been through the SFPD’s Critical Mindset Coordinated Response Training. He did not specify which officers had not completed the trainings.
“We are still in the very early stages of an administrative investigation, which may take months to complete,” said Yep. He added that several eyewitnesses had been interviewed by both the SFPD and the DA’s office, which will conduct an independent investigation. The Department of Police Accountability will also conduct a separate investigation.