The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Policing Services (COPS) will conduct a “comprehensive review” of the San Francisco Police Department after the Dec. 2 killing of Mario Woods by officers, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. COPS, headed by former East Palo Alto, Ca., Police Chief Ronald Davis, collaborates with local police forces to build stronger relationships with communities, and Police Chief Greg Suhr had requested such a review. Woods' family and the American Civil Liberties Union had asked for an additional federal intervention, one by the DOJ Civil Rights Division, which enforces federal antidiscrimination laws and can force reforms.
The Obama administration opened such civil rights probes in cities including Chicago, Cleveland and Ferguson, Mo., in many cases finding patterns of excessive force and racial bias. Suhr said Woods was allegedly still armed with a knife he had used in an earlier stabbing, and that the five officers who fired on him had no choice but to use lethal force after attempts to disarm him with beanbag rounds and pepper spray were unsuccessful. Critics said the video of Woods' last moments ran counter to the police account, showing him struggling to walk with his arms at his sides and posing little threat to the officers surrounding him.