A double-murder suspect who is refusing to eat and is possibly suicidal should be forcibly kept alive, lawyers for The City will argue Friday.
The City Attorney’s Office has filed a civil court petition in the case of Hong Ri Wu, office spokesman Jack Song said Wednesday. Wu is in a jail medical unit at San Francisco General Hospital and has reportedly been surviving for more than a month on just water.
“We’re seeking authorization for medical treatment,” Song said. “The priority is to ensure that the patient is healthy.”
Wu, 57, a Fisherman’s Wharf merchant, is accused of gunning down two rivals on Jan. 31. He was arrested at the scene, and has confessed to the slayings, prosecutors said. Wu also tried unsuccessfully to fire his own attorney, who believes he is not mentally competent to stand trial.
Last month, Sheriff Michael Hennessey publicly raised the issue of Wu’s refusal to eat, saying Wu was “attempting to commit suicide by starvation” and had told a deputy “I just want it all over.”
The hospital oversees Wu’s meals and officials there have refused to force one of their patients to eat. Without commenting directly on the case, a hospital spokeswoman said at the time that the hospital respects “individual self-
determination” for patients.
Hennessey said his duty was to keep all his inmates safe, but the judge in Wu’s criminal case declined to take up Hennessey’s request to order the hospital to feed Wu.
The Sheriff’s Department and the Health Department have apparently discussed the issue further since then.
“We are pleased that the Health Department is taking this matter to court,” Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Susan Fahey said this week.
Friday’s hearing, a “confidential petition for authorization for medical treatment for adult without conservator,” will take place before a judge at the hospital, and is closed to the public because of patient confidentiality laws, Song said.
Under California law, a petition can be filed to determine if patients lack the capacity to make health care decisions for themselves and to appoint a person to make the decision on their behalf.