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San Francisco police investigating
officer-involved shooting

Officers on leave

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

June 9, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A man who was killed by police inside a cramped and dark apartment attic Tuesday night was assuming a shooting stance and holding a cylindrical object in his hands, according to a police spokesman.

San Francisco resident Asa Sullivan, 25, had fled to the attic after police entered the Villas at Park Merced apartment where he and a companion were staying, police Sgt. Neville Gittens said.

Police originally reported that Sullivan shot at officers multiple times through the floor of the attic and that officers fired back through the ceiling, killing him.

After further investigation, however, police report that Sullivan did not have a gun and the officers had gone into the attic after him.

In regards to the discrepancies in the two reports, Gittens said the information contained in the preliminary report was based on witness accounts and second-hand information, which proved to be unreliable.

Gittens said after further investigation, police have a clearer idea of what happened.

Police were called to the Villas Parkmerced apartments, near San Francisco State University, around 8:50 p.m. on reports from neighbors of squatters in an uninhabited apartment. Gittens said the apartment complex has had problems in the past with trespassers, and management had asked residents to report any suspicious activity.

Officers contacted security and then entered the two-floor apartment at 2 Garces Drive. Gittens did not know if the officers entered by force, by key or if the door was open.

Once inside, the officers encountered Sullivan and another man. Sullivan fled upstairs to the attic. Officers attempted to get him to come out, but he refused, saying he didn't want to go back to jail, Gittens said.

Two officers, a man and a woman, followed. The attic was dark and the officers used a flashlight to see. Once inside the attic, the officers claim Sullivan took a shooting stance, extending his arms in front of him and clasping his hands around a "cylindrical" object.

Gittens did not say what Sullivan was holding in his hands, but investigators did not find a gun anywhere in the attic.

Police say the male officer shot first and the bullet ricocheted around the attic and nicked the female officer's ear. Then, the female officer fired. Gittens said he does not know how many rounds were fired, but Sullivan was hit and died in the attic.

The ricocheting bullets also pierced the attic floor, causing the other officers inside the apartment to take cover. The officers never fired back, Gittens said.

Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. Internal affairs, the homicide detail and the district attorney's office have all launched separate investigations. A representative from the Office of Citizen Complaints was also present during the preliminary investigation, but no citizen complaints have been filed yet.

Police have not identified the officers involved in the shooting.

The male officer has been with the department for four years and the female officer has been with the department for three years.

"I want to emphasize that this incident shows the extreme difficulties and stressful circumstances that officers find themselves in," police Chief Heather Fong said Wednesday.

Police arrested the other man in the apartment. Gittens said he did not know what charges he faces.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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