SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The San Francisco Police department released footage from body cameras worn by officers in the May 19 police shooting which left two men dead. Police are describing the event as an “officer-involved shooting incident that ended tragically.” Please note that the video is graphic.
Officers responded to a call at Mariposa and Owens streets on May 19 after receiving a 911 call, according to records. The officers arrived on scene and found two men fighting. The men were later identified by police as Rafael Mendoza, 49, and Michael Macfhionghain, 57.
The video released by police begins with a recording of the call placed to 911, and continues on with the dispatch recordings of police coordinating their response. The police can be heard saying, “ERIW at gunpoint.” An E.R.I.W. is also known as an extended range impact weapon, a foam pellet device used to deescalate situations without deadly force. Since 2015 all police vehicles within San Francisco are expected to carry ERIWs with the goal of safeguarding human life.
In the video released by police, you can see the footage from multilple bodycams worn by various officers. It begins with footage from the bodycam on Officer 1, who grabs a red-handled weapon from his vehicle before walking towards a group of four officers. In the video the five officers are grouped around what appears to be two men fighting over a knife on the ground. Three of those officers appear to be holding ERIWs, and one officer has his gun drawn and aimed at the two men fighting on the ground.
One of the officers speaks to the men on the ground, and asks one of them to drop the knife. He says repeatedly, while his gun is aimed at the two men, “Listen to me, we cannot solve this until you drop the knife… I don’t want to shoot you.”
At this point a few more officers arrive on the scene and put on latex gloves. The police discuss that one of the men does not speak English, and another officer clarifies, “The white dude does.”
Police state that there is a second knife. At this point the officers group around the men more closely, and one officer can be seen clarifying which of the officers has a “fatal” weapon and which has a “less lethal” weapon. The officers repeatedly say, “Drop the knife!” and then repeat it Spanish saying, “Suelta el cuchillo.”
At this point in the video officers can be heard saying “Red light, red light!” before discharging the ERIW for the first time. After warning the men to drop the knives again, the officers repeat the red light warning before discharging an ERIW for the second time.
One officer states, “There’s too many guns.. there’s too many,” before rearranging the officers. As the men on the ground continue struggling over the knives, the officers can be heard saying “Drop the knife or you’re going to keep getting hit.” They also scream, “Red light, red light, less lethal,” before discharging an ERIW for a third time.
A police officer then attempted to crouch in and pepper spray the two men before being instructed to back up, “Until the knife comes down.” At this point the men on the ground begin to struggle more, and one attempts to stab the other. An ERIW appears to be discharged for a fourth time, but the men continue to struggle. The police instruct them to drop the knives before the officers fire their guns. A barrage of approximately 10 shots can be heard in the video, and it appears that at least three officers fired their weapons.
The officers then call for medical assistance while separating the two men and attempting to treat them for their injuries. According to police Macfhionghain was pronounced dead at the scene and Mendoza was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital.
Last week the California Department of Justice announced they would be investigating the shooting.
Bay City News contributed to story.