S.F. Police Union Ad Stirs Dispute On Shooting Policy

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San Francisco’s police union intensified its attack on a proposal to restrict officers from shooting at moving vehicles — a top priority for reform advocates — with an advertisement dramatizing what could happen if a raging motorist gunned his pickup into a crowd of street activists, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. “Many will die, or be injured,” the video’s narrator warns, over an image of an officer unable to draw his gun because of the department’s new use-of-force policy. The ad, airing today on local TV stations, drew criticism over the union’s stance as well as how it sought to make its case. The video pointed to the truck attack that killed 86 people celebrating Bastille Day in France in July and a 2003 incident in San Francisco in which two officers shot and killed a driver in a chaotic encounter.

The ad falsely suggests the San Francisco driver had steered into a crowd and was “determined to run people down.” There was no crowd, and the 18-year-old appeared to be focused on trying to escape from police when he was killed, said his father, who was outraged when he learned of the ad. Police Commission President Suzy Loftus, whose face appears at the end of the ad as the union asks for the public to contact her with complaints about the proposed policy, said the political message was misleading and represented “Trump-like fear-mongering.” Loftus said, “Twenty-five percent of officer-involved shootings in San Francisco since 2000 involved officers shooting at cars. These were not terror attacks, as we see in the tragic case highlighted in the video.” The dispute comes amid an ongoing investigation into a sergeant’s fatal shooting of an unarmed car-theft suspect in May, which prompted the resignation of Chief Greg Suhr.

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