Man killed by police during knife encounter identified
By Ari Burack
January 30, 2008
A panhandler shot dead by San Francisco police in the Russian
Hill area Sunday afternoon after allegedly threatening officers
with a knife was identified yesterday by the medical examiner's
office as 55-year-old Leonard Michael Cole.
Cole had no fixed address, but likely lived in San Francisco,
according to a medical examiner's office investigator.
Police reported that Cole was detained by officers at Greenwich
Street and Van Ness Avenue at about 3:20 p.m. after they responded
to a report that he was illegally panhandling in the median there.
Cole then escaped and fled eastbound on Greenwich Street, according
to police. He then pulled a kitchen knife with an approximately
8-inch blade after being stopped by three officers at Greenwich
and Polk Streets, police reported.
The officers ordered him to drop the knife but he refused and
instead lunged at one of the officers with the weapon, according
One of the officers responded by firing at Cole, who was struck
at least once, police reported. Police gave Cole medical attention
until an ambulance arrived and transported him to San Francisco
General Hospital, where he died shortly before 7 p.m.
None of the officers were injured, according to Mannina. The
officer who fired the shots, a veteran according to Mannina, has
been placed on routine administrative leave while the incident
is being investigated by police and the San Francisco District