San Francisco police investigating
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
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"
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
"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.
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