San Francisco police commission discusses
officer-involved shooting deaths
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
July 12, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The families of two men shot and
killed by police officers within three weeks of each other came
together at tonight's San Francisco Police Commission meeting
to continue to petition the Police Department for answers. Vocal
opponents of the department's use of force have appeared at the
last two meetings, but tonight was the first time both the relatives
of 25-year-old Asa Sullivan and 36-year-old Oliver Lefiti came
together to criticize the way the department has provided little
or no information to family members.
"I know the police commission is not directly responsible
for the death of Asa, however this commission was put in place
to make sure that SFPD is held accountable for their actions,"
said Evette Weiler, a 27-year-old friend of Sullivan's family.
"I feel the commission has failed the people and visitors
of San Francisco in that respect."
Sullivan died June 6 when he fled to the cramped attic of a Villas
Parkmerced apartment after officers entered on a trespassing call.
Police followed Sullivan into the dark attic and shot him after
he assumed a shooting stance with a cylindrical object in his
hands, according to police.
No gun was ever found in the attic.
Less than three weeks later, on June 24, police in the Mission
District shot Oliver Lefiti.
According to police, two officers were threatened when Lefiti
drove his Honda in their direction. They shot him several times
and he died the next day.
Both families contend that the shootings were unjustified uses
of force and the officers involved should be thrown off the force.
Commissioner Theresa Sparks tonight called upon Chief Heather
Fong to try and bridge the communication gap and to provide some
compassion to the families.
Fong said she would like to communicate more with the families,
but the department also had to consider legal issues before that
could happen. She also said information released to the media
could ruin an investigation.
"Once something compromises an investigation, you can't
turn it back," Fong said.
Also at tonight's meeting, a representative from the Mayor's
Office of Criminal Justice proposed a plan to hire an outside
organization to audit the department.
Deputy Director David Onek debuted a plan to recruit the Police
Executive Research Forum to help the police with issues such as
redrawing district lines and improving technology.
The plan would rely on months of information gathering and assessment,
but Onek said that in the end, real implementation would occur.
The commission was receptive to the idea, but the proposal is
only in its beginning stages. The mayor's office did not even
have a cost proposal available. The discussion is expected to
continue at the next commission meeting.
Commissioners Joe Veronese and David Campos were excused from
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