Mayor Ed Lee’s request for a federal investigation of the Mario Woods killing is unlikely to be granted, according to a letter written by District Attorney George Gascon.
The Jan. 28 letter, obtained by the San Francisco Examiner, also asked the mayor why, if he wants an independent investigation of the police shooting and bias in the department, he hasn’t supported Gascon’s blue ribbon panel doing just that?
“While I am hopeful that the U.S. Attorney General agrees to conduct this urgently needed investigation, there is no guarantee that they will,” wrote Gascon. “I write today to request that your office reconsiders its lack of support for the efforts that have been underway for the past year to reform the practices and culture of the department.”
Lee asked the Department of Justice earlier this month to launch an investigation into Woods’ death following continued pressure from protesters and calls for the firing of Police Chief Greg Suhr.
In Lee’s inauguration speech, which was interrupted by the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition protests, the mayor spoke about rebuilding trust between police and the community. Gascon’s letter asked if Lee’s rhetoric was serious.
“If you are committed to restoring trust between police and the community, I ask that you take the obvious and immediate action of directing the Chief of police and the SFPD to cooperate with the Blue Ribbon Panel,” Gascon wrote. “Public safety in San Francisco can no longer afford decision making that favors the interests of the Police Officers Association over the interests of the citizens you were elected to represent.”
The mayor’s office, in the meantime, says Lee has already put forth proposals that would rebuild public trust.
“The mayor appreciates the District Attorney’s support for Mayor Lee’s call for an independent, objective investigation by the Department of Justice into the death of Mario Woods,” Lee’s spokesperson Christine Falvey said in a statement. “He has also proposed a number of police reforms to rebuild trust with the community and he looks forward to working with all law enforcement agencies, including the District Attorney’s Office, to restore that trust.”
The Blue Ribbon Panel on Bias in Law Enforcement, made up of three distinguished judges, was organized by Gascon but is run independently of his office. The mayor has refused to help pay for the panel, so Gascon identified a grant to pay for its activities. Still, the police department and the POA have opposed the activities of the panel, which thus far has had little cooperation from either.