Mayor Ed Lee has called for a federal investigation into the death of Mario Woods amid citywide concern, heated protests and scattered doubt over the police account of the fatal shooting last month.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch last Thursday, the mayor asked the justice department to launch an investigation into the Dec. 2 incident, inviting “further guidance and counsel on what we can do as a City to prevent these incidents whenever possible in the future.”
“We want to throw our doors open, inviting transparency and accountability,” Lee wrote in the letter obtained by the San Francisco Examiner. “We seek answers, not just to the facts of Mr. Woods’s case, but also answers about how as a Police Department and a City we can build deeper, stronger trust between law enforcement and the communities they’re sworn to protect.”
The mayor’s request comes less than a month after supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen requested a federal investigation into the fatal shooting in a resolution before the Board of Supervisors.
“We should be leading the way when it comes to policing in the 21st Century,” Cohen said. “This is a big step in the right direction towards reclaiming this leadership, increasing transparency and rebuilding the community’s trust in our police department.”
Supervisor David Campos also introduced a resolution earlier this month that would offer condolences to the mother of the 26-year-old black man. The resolution, which is set to be voted on Tuesday by the Board, would also declare July 22 “Mario Woods Remembrance Day” in San Francisco, the date of Woods’ birthday.
Campos said he welcomed the independent investigation “but it should not be limited to Mario Woods’ case.”
“It should include Alex Nieto and Amilcar Perez-Lopez,” he said in a text message to the Examiner. Nieto was shot and killed by police on Bernal Hill in 2014 while carrying a Taser while Perez-Lopez reportedly had a knife when he was fatally shot by police in the Mission.
Supervisor John Avalos agreed with the sentiment, adding that he hopes the mayor “and Breed and Cohen won’t leave behind the Latino community still reeling from the officer-involved killings” of Nieto and Perez-Lopez.
Since the fatal shooting, which was captured on videos posted to social media, protesters have questioned whether or not the five officers used excessive force when they opened fire on Woods. Demonstrators have even appeared at the mayor’s Glen Park home to offer him a “wake-up call” and invited him to sit at their table to talk about the shooting.
On Monday, the police union contested the resolution to name a day in The City after Woods in a letter to Breed.
Police Officers Association head Martin Halloran said that a day of remembrance for Woods every July 22 in The City “is completely inappropriate.”
Halloran in the letter characterized Woods according to the police account as “a convicted armed robber and validated gang member, who was on parole” when he slashed a stranger in the Bayview and refused to drop a kitchen knife when told to by police.
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