Illustrations by Molly Oleson.

It has been five months since police officers killed Michael MacFhionghain and Rafael Mendoza in the dirt beneath the I-280 overpass.

San Francisco police officers were called to separate the two brawling homeless men. When they arrived, they found MacFhionghain sitting on top of Mendoza, holding a knife above his head. After ten minutes of frantic orders from police, MacFhionghain appeared to push the knife downwards.

At least four officers opened fire, killing both men.

Their deaths were the latest in a line that stretches back decades. Since 2000, some 58 people have been shot and killed by police in San Francisco. Click on the pictures below to read the stories of each one. You can use the search bar to filter the shootings by name, neighborhood or date. Use the details option to filter by keyword, such as “knife” or “mental illness.”

Descriptions of events were sourced from police reports, District Attorney accounts, media articles, and witness accounts. Some events are disputed.


The circumstances that surround each police shooting in the city are unique, but some trends have emerged nonetheless.

Demographics

At least 14 percent of people shot and killed by police in San Francisco were homeless. If the city’s latest count is accurate, then homeless people make up less than 1 percent of the city’s total population. This means that law enforcement have shot and killed homeless people at a rate at least 15 times higher than the overall population.

Mental illness also appears to be a huge factor in shooting risk. We found that at least 38 percent of people who were shot reportedly had a history of mental illness. Many more were acting erratically at the time, or had indicated that they were suicidal. Previous analyses by KQED and the San Francisco Chronicle looked at police shootings over shorter periods, and found that mental illness was a factor in 58 and 60 percent of cases, respectively.

Since 2000, the people who have been shot were overwhelmingly male; we found only three women against 55 men. Victims were disproportionately young, and likely to be either Black or Latinx. Black people make up around 5 percent of the city, but over 30 percent of fatal police shootings.

In 24 cases, we have not yet found photographs of the deceased. In four cases, the remains of the deceased were not claimed by family, and they were cremated by the city of San Francisco.

% city population vs % fatally shot

40

35

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

White

Black

Latinx

Asian

Other

Race and ethnicity

Race and ethnicity

White

Black

Latinx

Asian

Other

20

40

5

10

15

25

30

35

0

% city population vs % fatally shot


% city population vs % fatally shot

24

20

16

12

8

4

0

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85+

Age

Age

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85+

0

4

8

12

24

16

20

% city population vs % fatally shot

Charts by Will Jarrett. Up-to-date as of Oct. 2022.

Police injuries

Officers have faced injury and death during fatal police shootings.

In 2006, officer Bryan Tuvera, 28, was shot and killed while chasing armed robbery suspect Marlon Ruff. In several other instances, officers were stabbed or shot.

At least eight officers have shot and killed themselves since 2000, either deliberately or accidentally.

Weapons

In just over a third of fatal police shootings, the person who was shot was armed with a gun. At least five people were unarmed, and eight had no weapon besides a car.

A taser,

a machete,

and a hammer

In one of these cases,

the gun was unloaded

Gun

Knife

Car

Unarmed

Fake gun

Other

Gun

Knife

Car

Unarmed

A taser, a machete,

and a hammer

Fake gun

Other

Chart by Will Jarrett. Up-to-date as of Oct. 2022.

It is difficult to determine when a car is being used as a weapon versus as a mode of escape. In this chart, “car” means they were in a car but had no other weapon, while “unarmed” means they had no weapon and no vehicle.

Every woman killed by police was shot while driving. In December, 2016, the San Francisco Police Commission banned shooting at moving cars unless the person inside posed an immediate threat to someone “by means other than the vehicle.”

Lawsuits

Lawsuits were brought against the city by the families of the deceased in at least 15 cases. And, since 2000, the city has paid out more than $7 million in civil cases and out-of-court settlements. Even more was given to those injured by police, and there may be more payments of undisclosed amounts not included in this total.

Two officers, Kenneth Cha and Chris Samayoa, have been charged with homicide. No officers have been convicted.

Methodology

We used police accounts, District Attorney reports, news articles, and data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to create our dataset. You can download the data here.

We included everyone we found who was shot by police within San Francisco. This mainly involved shootings by the San Francisco Police Department, although there were also cases from the Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, and Daly City police. We excluded shootings by off-duty officers outside of San Francisco. We included shootings at SFO airport because, although it is in San Mateo County, the San Francisco Police Department has jurisdiction.

This dataset does not include people who were killed in custody or died by means other than shooting.

Sean Moore is included because, although he died three years after he was shot, his death was directly caused by complications from his shooting.

If you spot any mistakes in our reporting, encounter any bugs with our interactive, or have any more information or pictures you would like to be included, please email will@missionlocal.com.

We intend to keep this database updated.

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DATA REPORTER. Will was born in the UK and studied English at Oxford University. After a few years in publishing, he absconded to the USA where he studied data journalism in New York. Will has strong views on healthcare, the environment, and the Oxford comma.

Molly is a multimedia journalist, editor, photographer and illustrator. She has contributed to dozens of publications, and most recently, served as Editor of the Pacific Sun. To view more of her work, visit mollyoleson.com.

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Christine Delianne

Christine flew across the country from Long Island to the Bay Area for college. She is a junior at Stanford University, where she served as the Managing Editor for the student newspaper. Before joining Mission, she covered breaking news as an intern at Bay City News and The Sacramento Bee.

David Mamaril Horowitz

David’s one of those San Francisco natives who gets excited whenever City College is mentioned. He has journalism degrees from there and San Francisco State University, graduating from the latter in May 2021. In college, David played five different roles as an editor at student news publications and reported as an intern for three local newspapers, mostly while waiting tables at the Alamo Drafthouse. His first job was at Mitchell's Ice Cream.

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18 Comments

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  1. Beyond a doubt the killings of citizens by the police need to be investigated. One thing I always felt while is that the police seem too eager to shoot to kill…at the very worst, if they must shoot can’t they shoot to maim?

    On a different topic, I also want to know about people killed or maimed by the gang bangers in the city? How about neighborhoods that have been overrun by drug dealers and gangs that make it dangerous to walk the streets. These concerns are worth a Mission Local study as well. Also,how effective are community groups at dispelling gang and drug dealing activity?

  2. Even though my nephew Derrick Gaines (age 15 at the time of his execution in So San Francisco 2012) is not named in this list, he was killed by a cop who left So San Francisco and has been on the force in San Francisco since about 2014. This cop has had many complaints and suits against him over his policing methods in San Francisco.

  3. Why not include all deaths while in police custody.
    Off hand
    the large man on Cesar Chavez who died during transport after Peter sprayed

    A man off Brotherhood way who died when he choked on a baggie of drugs during a detention that he grabbed from the car roof
    The Samoan man on Lombard who killed his client in Santa Rosa, then fought several officers on Lombard Street injuring a couple.

    There must be more that I don’t recall but they should be included in this list along with anyone who passed while in the Sheriff”s custody

  4. wow 58 police killings in 22 years… meanwhile we’re at what, 40 murders in SF this year so far? Can we get profiles on those victims? Maybe some accountability there?

  5. Serious question:
    Could you please give some statistics on how many of them had fathers that were known/ active in their lives/ in prison?

    1. Obviously all killings including the relative handful by police need to be thoroughly investigated but it is not exactly surprising that homeless people are more likely to be involved in fatal incidents than elementary school teachers or CPAs. This isn’t the Grapes of Wrath. Today’s homeless population are virtually all hard-core drug addicts and/or people with severe untreated mental illness. This does not mean they are not in need of compassion and help but we have to look at them in a clear headed fashion.

  6. As a 35 year Mission resident i find this pice tone deaf and weird. We’re going through a very rough patch right now where every cretin with a gun is waving it in the air and stabbings are happening daily. I’ve never seen the people who live so afraid and angry. All you people ever do is report these little propagandistic stories of “ooohh he was just misunderstood” about people whose lives were basically consumed by their own criminality. It’s obnoxious.

    1. Thank you. There are limits to this lunacy. I know your type – you would would apologize to a robber for not having enough cash on you. There’s been over a thousand murders by citizens during the same time. Look what two years of AWOL law enforcement has lead our city to. We’re now 500 officers short because NOBODY WANT OT BE A COP HERE. You people are nuts.

  7. What has stood out to me is how SF was able to get off the hook so cheaply time and time again. After the Laquan McDonald $5M settlement in Chicago, settlement amounts seem to shift upward nationwide, but not in SF.

    Then came George Floyd and now SF is having to pay up. So $7M since 2020, but what was the total for the previous 20 years? Chump change. Mario Woods mom got $400k, unreal.

  8. Why not make a database of ALL killings in San Francisco? That would be sure to be more enlightening than just police killings. Or do only police killings matter?

  9. Amilcar Perez-Lopez was shot in the back as he was running from officers. Linking to the DA report is misleading as it was a lie which was concocted over two years and finally rested on an “investigation” which was a coverup and an absurd and entirely inappropriate animation. There is a reason the City settled. This was one of the cases that led to the “reform” effort over the past few years that Breed, Scott and the POA have successfully undermined.

    1. I very much appreciate this report, which gives perspective and enlightens all residents. This research is a huge service to voters, and jurors. Still, I do think it must be stressed that since your sources are law enforcement, who routinely claim a victim was “armed” and a “threat” in order to defend their use of deadly force, we should know what the data is from the victims’ representatives. Amilcar Perez Lopez is just one tragic example – shot six times in the back as he ran away from the police, yet the police faced zero consequences claiming they felt threatened.

    2. The settlement was a pittance and Perez-Lopez’s family had a good lawyer who had recently won millions for a LA client. The family could’ve gotten way, way more if they’d gone to trial, or even pushed closer to a trial. They were in El Salvador (I believe) and I get why they took it, but it was unfortunate those lying cops weren’t subpoenaed.