Family calls on Gascon to charge officers who shot homeless man

Family of a homeless man shot and killed by police in the Mission nearly two years ago met with District Attorney George Gascon for the first time on Wednesday, calling on him to press charges against the officers who opened fire.

Supporters walked out of the meeting skeptical yet hopeful that Gascon would charge the two officers who shot 45-year-old Luis Gongora Pat at a homeless encampment at 18th and Shotwell streets in April 2016.

Gascon told the family his office hoped to finish the investigation into the shooting within the next six to eight weeks. He has yet to decide whether to file charges against Sgt. Nate Steger and Officer Michael Mellone for the shooting.

Adriana Camarena, a Mission District activist who was in the meeting, noted that Gascon has not charged an officer involved in any of the police shootings that have occured since his election in 2011.

“Based on George Gascon’s scorecard, the district attorney is today guaranteeing police impunity because he has not filed charges in any single case,” Camarena told reporters outside the Hall of Justice. “So are we hopeful? We are always going to be hopeful.”

The shooting unfolded in a matter of seconds after police arrived at the homeless encampment and claimed they saw Gongora Pat wielding a large knife. Gongora Pat’s death was part of a series of controversial police shootings that led up to the resignation of then-police Chief Greg Suhr in May 2016.

Gongora Pat was a Mexican citizen from the Yucatan who still has family living in San Francisco. His brother, Jose Gongora Pat, also called for charges against the officers after the meeting Wednesday.

“My mother is nearly dying after the assassination of my brother,” his brother told reporters through a Spanish translator. “I’m just asking that they don’t allow her to die over the grief of this case without justice.”

Alex Bastian, a spokesperson with the District Attorney’s Office, confirmed that Gascon went over the investigation and relevant law with the family.

“The case remains under investigation,” Bastian said.

Camarena said the meeting was “upsetting.”

“We feel that George Gascon doesn’t have an answer as to why he hasn’t charged officers in any single case since he entered office,” Camarena said. “He just says that it’s just very hard.”

Gascon received additional funding to investigate police shootings in the summer of 2016. In recent months, his office has worked to clear a backlog of police shooting cases.

Michael Barba

Michael Barba covers criminal justice for the San Francisco Examiner. Contact him at (415)359-2874 or Follow him on Twitter: @mdbarba.

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Michael Barba

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