San Francisco Police release the names of nearly all officers involved in shootings since 1990

Thank you Jonah Owen Lamb

San Francisco2

In the past 24 years, 376 San Francisco police officers have fired their weapons in shooting incidents, according to documents obtained by The San Francisco Examiner that publicly name the officers for the first time.

Most of the officers who fired their weapons during that time span did so only once, but a handful of current and former officers have repeatedly fired their weapons in the line of duty. Ten fired their weapons at least three times over the past 24 years and half are still San Francisco police officers. Only 35 officers were involved in such incidents twice.

In that period, 61 people have died in officer-involved shootings.

This information — the names of every officer involved in a shooting incident for more than two decades — was released for the first time after The San Francisco Examiner made a Public Records Act request for the names of every officer involved in a shooting since 1990.

New information
The request would have been denied on legally sound grounds until a recent state Supreme Court ruling narrowed the grounds police departments have to deny such requests. Now, unless there is a credible threat to police officers or a clear reason why such knowledge would interfere with an investigation, the names must be provided.

The department handed over the list of names but did not include dates for each incident beyond the year it happened. So, the details of the incident each officer was involved in remains unclear. The department also did not release the names in the shooting of Alejandro Nieto since, they said, a credible threat exists against the officers.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said every officer-involved shooting is taken very seriously, but each case is specific and should be investigated as such. The dangerousness of each assignment must be taken into consideration as well as whether the officers were attacked or shot at before they returned fire.

Still, when asked if questions are raised when an officer has a repeated record of shooting incidents, Suhr said, “You look for patterns.”

Officer-involved shootings are incidents in which an officer intentionally fires his or her gun to stop a threat or an accidental discharged resulting in injury or death. An officer-involved discharge includes not only unintentional incidents, but also the killing of dangerous animals.

An officer’s involvement in a shooting does not mean that there was necessarily any wrongdoing.

Repeat incidents
Three officers — Joseph Buono, Paul Lozada and James Miller — were each involved in four shooting incidents each. Miller was involved in four such incidents between 1990 and 1996. (A retired SFPD officer also named James Miller was involved in one incident.)

Lozada was involved in shooting incidents in 1993, 1995, 1999 and 2003. Buono, who retired in 2009, was involved in one incident a year from 1991 to 1994. Neither is still employed by the Police Department.

In 2005, Lozada, who had served on a violent crime task force, lost a lawsuit against The City alleging his career was ruined after he was put on desk duty following a 2003 shooting incident.

Seven other officers were involved in three shooting incidents; five of them still work for the department.

They include Oscar Carcelan, who was in shooting incidents in 1992, 1994 and 1995; Michael Connolly, who was in such incidents in 1992, 1993 and 1995; John Lewis who was in similar incidents in 1992, 1996 and 1998; James Garrity in 1992, 1993, 2007; and Joseph Salazar in 1993, 1997, 2007.

The other two officers in the group of seven, William Wohler and John Haggett, do not work for the department. Wohler was involved in one shooting incident in 1993 and two in 1991. Haggett was involved in shooting incidents in 1992, 1995 and 2006.

There are more than 1,700 officers in the department.

Number of officers involved in shooting incidents since 1990:
376

Number of officers involved in shootings at least twice since 1990:
45

Number of deaths in officer-related shootings since 1990:
61

Officer-involved shooting incidents since 2000:
97

NOTE: The Examiner got the documents through a Public Records Act request. Most likely, there is a separate document for each shooting. It would be part of the public record for each incident. Copies of public records can be expensive. It helps to have as many specifics as possible, to shorten the search time, but a large cache like this would be too costly for most private citizens.

The Examiner owns whatever copies they have obtained. Maybe they will write more, including a list of the names, after they have done more analysis. It might be a good idea to have people write to the editor and publisher, requesting this.

Federal, state and local agencies license police officers to kill, if necessary, but nobody counts all the bodies or tracks what, if any, consequences might follow.

The numbers that do exist are hardly complete.

The nation’s approximately 18,000 police agencies are expected to submit specified categories of crime statistics every year to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program. But inclusion of justifiable homicides is optional.

A Post-Dispatch analysis of the data from 2005-12 shows more than 1,100 departments — or roughly 6 percent of the country’s law enforcement agencies — have reported a killing by an officer or private citizen that is considered justifiable.

Moreover, the federal data do not record how often police face criminal consequences for using deadly force. A police killing that is deemed a murder presumably is just included among the jurisdiction’s other criminal killings.

In 1994, Congress directed the attorney general to “acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers” as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
The International Association of Police Chiefs was asked to gather the information. Its last report dates to 2001, the last year for which federal funding was available.

The incomplete FBI statistics covering 2005-12 indicate that police killed 3,155 people in that period.

No departments are included in the data from Florida, and only Chicago and Rockford are included from Illinois. New York City hasn’t reported one since 2006, and only three cities from New York state are represented at all.

But in some years — sometimes several years in a row — a number of major cities that at least occasionally participate had reported no justified homicides. They include San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Charlotte, N.C., Des Moines, Iowa, Omaha, Neb., Raleigh, N.C., and El Paso, Texas.

Clearly, the rate of force used by the police should be transparent and available to the public. If people knew how violent the interactions are, they might be shocked at how low the use of force might be.

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