Body camera footage released today shows Ryant Bluford, the man who police officers in the Bayview shot and killed last week, was agitated and attempting to stop an arrest before he pointed his gun at officers and was immediately killed.
The San Francisco Police Department, in a “town hall” meeting on Friday, showed the moments leading up to Bluford’s death on July 26. Bluford was apparently angry at the sight of officers attempting to arrest a man at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Catalina Street in the Bayview.
He approached the scene and lashed out at the officers, who were having difficulty arresting a man for an outstanding warrant.
“What the fuck are y’all doing? What the fuck are y’all doing in my neighborhood?” Bluford can be heard shouting in the footage shown today during a virtual meeting. “Uncuff him right now.”
Officers asked Bluford to back up and, shortly after, Bluford could be seen on video displaying a gun at his waist.
Plainclothes officers from the Community Violence Reduction Team — formerly the Gang Task Force — were in the middle of making the arrest. The man, who had been spending time with friends in a nearby apartment complex courtyard, insisted he had no warrant and refused to get into their car, though he allowed the officers to handcuff him. A woman who had been with him was making a call to his sister.
Around this time, Bluford approached and began demanding that the officers release the man. Shortly after, he flashed his gun and appeared to threaten the officers: “We finna go up,” he said. One officer ducked for cover, while others tried to disperse a growing crowd.
The plainclothes officers called for backup, and uniformed Bayview Station officers Marko Radin and Peter Van Zandt III arrived in a patrol vehicle within about 36 seconds, according to the timeline provided by the SFPD today.
By this time, Bluford had backed off the arrest scene and was on the other side of the intersection, yards away from the arrestee and plainclothes officers. Radin and Van Zandt could be heard on body-worn camera footage, repeatedly shouting for Bluford to put his hands up, and both threatened repeatedly to shoot him.
“Hands up, or I’ll shoot you in the head,” shouted Radin, who stood outside the police car with his rifle pointed over the car door.
“Get your fucking hands up! Get your fucking hands up!” began Van Zandt, who was armed with a handgun and similarly positioned near the driver’s seat. Then, he changed his tune: “Put your hands up please … Please put your hands up!”
About a minute later, Bluford apparently flipped off the officers with his left hand, and drew his gun with his right, pointing it at the officers. Both officers then shot their weapons, one minute and four seconds after their arrival.
Several shots can be heard, and Bluford falls to the ground. There was no indication in the video, or Friday’s meeting, that Bluford shot his gun.
Afterward, Van Zandt, Radin, and other Bayview police officers ran toward Bluford. Radin put his fingers to Bluford’s neck to check for a pulse, but apparently could not find one. Van Zandt then began chest compressions.
Both officers had crisis intervention training, which is meant to train them in de-escalation techniques and creating “time and distance” between themselves and a potentially violent issue.
Radin, who emigrated to the United States from Serbia in 2013, was listed as Bayview Station’s officer of the month in a 2021 newsletter. Van Zandt, records show, is a member of Police Activities League, a nonprofit that organizes youth sports and activities “to foster positive relationships” with police.
As a result of last week’s shooting, Bayview Station canceled its annual National Night Out event, where police at stations across the country host community members and emergency responders with the goal of strengthening their relationships.
Commenters, calling into the virtual meeting, asked why de-escalation measures were not used, or why crisis specialists didn’t arrive on the scene alongside — or instead of — more police.
One woman, who said she was Bluford’s family member, said she was disappointed by the language that the officers used when they arrived on the scene, from profanities to threats to shoot Bluford in the head.
“When you say to somebody, ‘I’m gonna shoot you in the head, I’m gonna shoot you in the head,’ you wanna kill ‘em,” she said.
Other commenters suggested that the police had no choice but to kill Bluford, since he was armed with a gun and pointed it at the officers.
The shooting is under investigation by various city agencies, including the Department of Police Accountability, the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and SFPD.