SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office accused police officers of botching a “biased stop” that escalated into an officer-involved shooting.
The incident happened on August 6 on a residential street in the Mission District. According to Deputy Public Defender Alexa Horner, four San Francisco Police Department officers fired shots at Jose Corvera on Shotwell Street while Corvera was holding an imitation gun.
Officers initially stopped Corvera because he was riding a bicycle while pushing a second bicycle, Horner said.
“The officers who stopped Mr. Corvera had not observed him commit any crime. This appears to be an example of police relying on their own bias to initiate a stop. This unnecessary police stop instigated and escalated a situation which endangered the public, Mr. Corvera, and members of the SFPD,” Horner said Tuesday.
The San Francisco Police Department did not respond to KRON4’s inquires for comment.
Corvera is Latino, speaks limited English, and suffers from mental health challenges, according to his attorney. The Public Defender’s Office said police officers mishandled the stop and caused the incident to escalate.
“An unnecessary stop of a person with mental health challenges and language needs can quickly escalate. When an officer exited a police car, Mr. Corvera tried to walk away. He then hid behind a parked car while holding onto a prop gun he carries for protection,” the public defender said.
It’s unclear where Corvera fired any blank rounds before officers opened fire.
“What ensued was a disorganized scene in which numerous officers were called to surround the block, including a large police tactical vehicle. At one point, shots can be heard in the body worn camera footage followed by officers questioning who fired the shots,” Horner said.
Corvera eventually threw his fake gun into the street and surrendered.
He is currently in jail and facing several charges, including resisting arrest and brandishing an imitation gun.
“Thankfully, Mr. Corvera came away with his life. However, he remains traumatized, detained, and is unfairly facing charges. Too often prosecutors and judges use mental health conditions to justify jailing people. We ask for his immediate release as the victim of a biased police stop and officer-involved shooting by SFPD,” Horner said.