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Mario Woods killing: Two of five officers involved previously accused of excessive force

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Screengrab from a video showing police officers shooting and killing Mario Woods in the Bayview Dec. 2, 2015. (Courtesy @krispyyyxchris via Twitter)
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Two of the five San Francisco police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Mario Woods earlier this month have allegedly used excessive force in the past, according to court records.

Nicholas Cuevas, one of the officers who opened fire at Woods, allegedly shot two men in the back in 2009. Charles August, another officer involved in Woods’ killing, is the subject of a federal civil rights case for allegedly beating a man in the Bayview until his ankle broke in 2013.

Woods, 26, was armed with a kitchen knife that he allegedly used in a nearby stabbing when officers found him in the Bayview. Videos appeared to show Woods trying to walk away from the officers when they fired at him, leaving his body with some 20 gunshot wounds, attorneys for his family said.

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The names of the five officers who fired their guns in the Dec. 2 shooting were released Friday in a case that has garnered public outrage and pulled San Francisco police practices into the national debate about police brutality.

The other officers who shot at Woods were identified as Winson Seto, Antonio Santos and Scott Phillips, police said. Seto once raised his gun at a suspect but didn’t fire during an officer-involved shooting. Phillips has been with the department for less than a year.

Santos graduated from the police academy around June 2008 while Phillips joined the department in January.

It is unclear who opened fire first and which officers hit Woods. More details into the police shooting will emerge at the close of three separate investigations.

Nicholas Cuevas

Cuevas allegedly fired his gun at three men in 2009 when he was an Antioch police officer, hitting two of them in the back, according to a federal lawsuit which is still pending in court.

Cuevas appears to have joined the department in 2011 as a lateral hired from Antioch. He was paid $166,799 in 2014.

Barry White and Demetrius Anderson allege in a 2011 federal civil rights lawsuit that Cuevas tried to kill them and another man, Gilbert Longsworth, in December 2009.

White has since been charged with the murder of two men in a San Francisco jewelry store in 2013.

The lawsuit alleges Cuevas fired his weapon at the three men as they sat in a car with their hands in the air.

“Officer Nicholas Cuevas of the Antioch Police Department tried to brutally murder three African-American men,” alleges the suit.

The three men had come from a party, where they had had an altercation at the door. When several partygoers came after the trio, Longsworth showed them a gun, which he put on the dashboard.

After leaving the area and getting lost, an unidentified car pulled up behind them and shined a light into their car. No sirens were turned on and the driver, Officer Cuevas, did not identify himself as a police officer, said the suit, but he did tell the three to put their hands up.

The trio complied and then Cuevas allegedly opened fire.

“Fearing for their lives and believing they were about to be killed in cold blood, plaintiffs and Mr. Longsworth exited the vehicle and started running,” said the suit.

As White ran he was struck in the back with a bullet believed to have been fired by Cuevas, alleges the suit.

After a brief pursuit, Anderson was caught soon after and while on the ground he was allegedly beaten by officers on the scene.

While the three escaped with their lives, noted the suit, White was shot in the back and “left for dead in a pool of blood,” and “Anderson narrowly escaped death when a bullet pierced the peak of his cap.”  Longsworth was shot in the back as well.

White was charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office with unidentified criminal charges in 2010, according to the suit. Anderson was charged that same year with an unspecified misdemeanor, said the suit.

Cuevas was also involved in detaining a man armed with a sword, according to the San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal from October.

The incident occurred around midnight in the Bayview after police got a call from “parents of a young man stating their son was trying to kill them with a sword. The suspect had already critically injured his mother and was chasing after his father.” Cuevas arrived along with five other officers and were able to find the suspect and detain him. The son admitted trying to kill his parents.

Charles August

Several months ago, August helped identify and arrest several suspects who robbed a credit union in Fairfield while heavily armed and “terrorized the employees,” according to last month’s police union journal. The Fairfield police chief later thanked him and other San Francisco police officers for their work.

August joined the police force around October 2008 when he graduated from the 217th Recruit Class, according to the police union’s journal from that month. In 2011, he was awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor and given $500 by the police department.

Last year, he was paid a total of $132, 575.

In July 2013, August was one of six officers who allegedly beat a handcuffed man for almost four minutes until his ankle was broken, according to court documents in a pending federal civil rights case against August.

The man — David Lloyd — was leaving a Bayview grocery store while several plainclothes officers were searching a man in front of Lloyd’s bicycle.

Police tried to keep Lloyd away from his bicycle while they searched the man, but Lloyd wanted to get home. That’s when August arrived in uniform and allegedly slammed Lloyd onto the ground after telling him to back up, handcuffing him.

August and the other officers then allegedly began to kick and punch Lloyd, fracturing his ankle, injuring his knee and back and bruising and scratching his body.

Police tried to charge Lloyd with resisting arrest but the District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges, according to court documents.

Winson Seto

Seto has been with the department since February 2008, city records show. In 2013, he’s mentioned in the police union journal as an officer who tracked down a suspect in a “vicious beating” over a phone. Last year, he was paid $154,321.

On Dec. 30, 2013, Seto raised his gun during an officer-involved shooting but didn’t fire at a suspect at 19th Avenue and Taraval Street who police were chasing, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The suspect ran over Seto’s foot during the pursuit with a Dodge Challenger. Another officer eventually fired at the suspect once in self-defense but struck the vehicle, which the District Attorney’s Office decided was reasonable. The suspect later crashed the car and was arrested.

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