Police Chief Greg Suhr on Wednesday defended the actions of two officers involved in the fatal shooting of a Southern California bank robbery suspect Tuesday.
“It’s never a good thing when anybody loses their life, but it appears in this instance” that the officers were either in danger of losing their lives or being seriously injured, Suhr said at a Police Commission meeting Wednesday.
Police have identified the suspect as 25-year-old Joshua Smith, believed to be the “Gen X Bandit” responsible for two bank robberies in Irvine on May 17.
San Francisco police, operating on a tip from the FBI that a stolen car used in the robberies had been tracked to The City, tried to detain the vehicle on Buena Vista Avenue East between Haight Street and Duboce Avenue at about 5:40 p.m.
Suhr said a sergeant and an officer from the Park Station plainclothes unit pulled behind the parked vehicle, ordered the suspect out, and identified themselves as police, but he threw the car into reverse and “used his vehicle as a weapon.”
The suspect drove at the sergeant, who was in danger of being pinned against his vehicle, Suhr said. The sergeant opened fire in self-defense, and the officer fired to defend the sergeant, he said.
Suhr said the suspect clipped the police car door and then drove at the officer, and several more shots were fired.
Smith was hit and later died.
The Police Department is planning a community meeting to discuss the shooting with residents.