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SF settles lawsuit over police shooting of Luis Gongora Pat

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Members of the community hold signs in protest during a Town Hall meeting in response to the April 7 police shooting death of Luis Gongora held at the Laborers International Union building in San Francisco’s Mission District Wednesday, April 13, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Nearly three years after San Francisco police shot and killed Luis Gongora Pat near a homeless encampment in the Mission, city officials have reached a confidential agreement to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with his family.

The City Attorney’s Office and attorneys for the family from the Law Offices of John Burris agreed in federal court on Wednesday to keep the terms of the settlement under wraps until it is approved by the Board of Supervisors, according to court records.

Sgt. Nathaniel “Nate” Steger and Officer Michael Malone shot Gongora Pat at 18th and Shotwell streets in April 2016 after responding to a report of a man waving a knife around at the homeless encampment.

The shooting prompted calls for then-Police Chief Greg Suhr to resign, as well as questions about whether the officers used proper tactics to de-escalate the situation before opening fire.

A surveillance camera recorded the officers arriving at the scene in a police cruiser and revealed that the shooting happened in a matter of seconds after officers unsuccessfully shot him with less-lethal rounds. The video did not capture Gongora Pat’s actions during the shooting.

Last May, District Attorney George Gascon drew criticism and calls for his resignation when he decided not to file any charges against Steger and Malone as well as the officers who shot and killed Mario Woods in the Bayview in December 2015.

“Personally, I’m very disturbed with these shootings and many other shootings because I don’t believe that they were necessary,” the district attorney said at the time. “Nevertheless, I’m duty-bound by the law as it is currently written.”

The civil lawsuit settled this week alleged that witness statements and video contradicted the police narrative that Gongora Pat moved toward officers with the knife.

But a District Attorney’s Office report found that a majority of the witnesses interviewed by investigators saw Gongora Pat move toward the officers.

The lawsuit also alleged that Gongora Pat was struck several times in the back and on his side, suggesting that he was not facing the officers at the time of the shooting.

The settlement was first reported by Courthouse News.

A spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department declined to comment.

Attorneys and a representative for the family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the settlement by May.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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