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S.F. Cop Shooting Leads to Chief’s Ousting

The fatal shooting of an unarmed Black woman in San Francisco Thursday morning led to the resignation of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr later in the day.

It will now be up to Deputy Chief, Toney Chaplin, an African American 26-year police veteran who was installed as acting chief to try to mend fences between the SFPD and a minority community that has lost faith in its local law enforcement.

“Toney Chaplin has the charisma, chemistry and courage to lead this department,” said the Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP.

The upheaval came after the shooting of the woman by police who were searching for stolen vehicles and came across the 27-year-old woman sitting in a parked car that had been reported stolen.

Officers turned on the patrol car’s lights and sounded its siren, and the woman sped off.  A few seconds later and about 100 feet away, the stolen car hit a parked utility truck. As officers tried to wrestle her out of the car, a single shot went off killing the unidentified woman.

The shooting took place in the Bayview District, the same area where Mario Woods, 26, was shot by five officers who he had confronted after slashing a person with a knife last December. The incident was recorded on cellphones by witnesses and has been under investigation.

Both deaths come in the midst of a scandal in which officers were caught exchanging racist text messages. Investigators found the text messages on the personal phones of the officers during criminal probes of former officer Jason Lai and retired Lt. Curtis Liu.

Suhr said that Lai, Liu and an unidentified third former officer sent and received many of the messages. He also said several civilians were involved.

Lai resigned last month and Liu retired last year. The unidentified officer also resigned and an unidentified fourth officer also implicated was facing dismissal before the city’s Police Commission.

Each of these were enough for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee oust Suhr.  Despite supporting him before, at a press conference, Lee said he had “arrived at a different conclusion to the question of how best to move forward.”

“The progress we have made has been meaningful, but it hasn’t been fast enough, not for me and not for Greg, and that’s why I have asked Chief Suhr for his resignation,” Lee said.

Activists had demanded Suhr’s resignation including hundreds that accompanied hunger strikers calling themselves the “Frisco Five” earlier this month outside of a police station. They ended their strike on May 8, but that led to a violent protest incident between their supporters and sheriff’s deputies.

Edwin Lindo, one of the hunger strikers,  applauded Suhr’s resignation.

“This shows the power of the people and the community,” he told NBC station KNTV. “When we come together with love justice, the power for justice is inevitable. This battle is a victory, but the fight for justice continues, making sure the next chief is one accountable to the community and that the necessary reforms are implemented.”


With reporting by The Associated Press