The family of Mario Woods will not be reimbursed for the burial of their 26-year-old son unless the District Attorney’s Office decides to charge any or all of the five officers who opened fire on him with a crime.
Woods was buried last week after the family held a service in his memory at the Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church — across the street from where officers Winson Seto, Antonio Santos, Charles August, Nicholas Cuevas and Scott Phillips shot at Woods, killing him.
Protesters at public meetings have continued to call for The City to pick up the bill for the burial expenses since the fatal police shooting Dec. 2. At the Hall of Justice on Friday, District Attorney George Gascon told protesters that his office would conduct a fair investigation.
“I thought it was very important to address them,” Gascon said. “It’s a matter of respect to the family and the community.”
Woods, a stabbing suspect but also a victim of gun violence, is unlike others shot and killed in San Francisco whose families receive up to $5,000 from the state for burial costs. He is not considered the victim of a crime under the California Victims Compensation Program unless the officers are charged.
“We feel like that is a crime in itself because we feel like the mother and the families are victims — she’s the victim of violence,” said Mattie Scott, an anti-violence activist whose son was killed in the Western Addition, adding that there is a lot of work to be done to expand the definition of who is considered the victim of a violent crime.
The families of Kenneth Harding Jr. and Alex Nieto turned to the community to help with burial expenses when the DA’s office decided the officers who shot at them acted within the law.
Harding fatally shot himself through the neck during a 2011 shootout with police in the Bayview, the medical examiner determined, and Nieto was shot and killed last year in a barrage of police gunfire while carrying a Taser in Bernal Heights.
“You’ve already suffered enough through the tragic loss of gun violence,” Scott said of the families of those killed by police. “We’re not Newtown, it’s a little different with inner-city violence. They don’t get the same respect … so the community has [to step in.]”
In the case of the Woods family, a gofundme.com page was set up on the Internet and family members were able to raise more than $17,000 to cover burial and other expenses.
Jonah Owen Lamb contributed to this report.