SFPD Officer Christopher Flores applies pressure to a wound on his face after being struck by a glass bottle and shooting at a suspect on Dec. 7, 2019 (Courtesy photo)

Rookie SFPD officer who shot at Jamaica Hampton just graduated police academy

The San Francisco police officer who fired the final shot at a 24-year-old man during a bloody confrontation in the Mission District earlier this month had only started working on the streets this summer.

Officer Christopher Flores graduated from the Police Academy on July 26 after being hired as a recruit by the San Francisco Police Department in late November 2018, according to department records.

Police said Flores was still completing field training on Dec. 7 when he and another officer encountered Jamaica Hampton, a burglary suspect who attacked them with a glass bottle near Mission and 23rd streets.

Flores fired just one bullet at Hampton, police said.

Hampton was getting up off the ground after being shot by Officer Sterling Hayes when Flores discharged his weapon, according to body-worn camera footage and surveillance videos released Tuesday.

In the body camera footage, Hayes can be heard yelling “stop, stop, stop” at the rookie officer.

On Wednesday, Supervisor Hillary Ronen issued a statement questioning whether the officers “used every de-escalation technique they could to avoid the life-threatening injuries to Mr. Hampton.”

“I know it’s easy to criticize and impossible to know what those horrible moments were like for all involved, but I just don’t understand why the officers chose to shoot Mr. Hampton seven times,” Ronen said. “The officers were trained in de-escalation so I’m wondering if they could have and should have created more time and distance.”

Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, defended the officers Wednesday in a statement to the San Francisco Examiner.

“These officers lives were clearly in danger,” Montoya said. “They tried to put distance between themselves and the suspect but video of the incident shows the suspect running continuously at one of the officers. This event unfolded quickly and our officers acted appropriately.”

Hayes has been with the SFPD since July 2013, according to department records.

In a November 2017 video posted to Twitter, Hayes described himself as a San Francisco native who went to Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory high school.

“This is the only city I know,” Hayes said. “I wouldn’t choose any other city over it.”

The incident marked the first on-duty police shooting by an SFPD officer since June 2018.

The shooting is expected to be among the first in which incoming progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin will decide whether to charge the officers involved. Boudin has said he will hold the police accountable as top prosecutor.

This is not the first time in recent history that a rookie SFPD officer has been involved in a police shooting.

In December 2017, Officer Christopher Samayoa shot and killed a 42-year-old carjacking suspect during a police pursuit in the Bayview on one of his first days on the job.

Samayoa shot through the window of his moving police car and fatally struck Keita O’Neil in the head. He was later fired by Police Chief Bill Scott.

The District Attorney’s Office has not made a charging decision in the case.

At a town hall meeting Tuesday evening, Scott released new details and footage of the Hampton shooting that drew outrage from an angry crowd at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in the Mission District.

Family and friends at the meeting described Hampton as a kind and caring person who worked as a waiter in Oakland and wanted to mentor youth. He had struggled with addiction and homelessness in the past but was housed at the time of the shooting.

Police said Flores and Hayes encountered Hampton while searching for a suspect who was attempting to break into cars and who had busted into an occupied home.

A tearful 911 caller reported a man breaking down the door to her apartment on the 900 block of Capp Street and asking for someone who did not live there.

“He just walked in, asked for him and walked out,” the woman said, according to a recording of the 911 call released by police. “We just have a little baby and I’m really scared.”

Shortly after, another 911 caller reported a “clean-cut” man trying to break the windows of a truck and into a police car near 25th and Capp streets.

The woman said the man also appeared to have broken a metal bar off a gate.

“He walked passed the cars and said ‘where are the cops,’” the second woman said told 911 dispatch.

Based on the descriptions both 911 callers provided, police said Flores and Hayes believed they were looking for the same suspect in both incidents.

They had just pulled up to the intersection of 23rd and Mission streets when Hampton crossed the street in front of their police vehicle.

As the police SUV pulled to the curb and Hayes opened the passenger door, Hampton appeared to rush him.

Body-worn camera from Hayes then shows the officer kicking at Hampton from inside the patrol car.

In surveillance footage from a nearby business, Flores is then seen getting out from the drivers seat and engaging with Hampton.

The body-camera footage from Hayes then shows Hampton striking Flores with a glass bottle over the head repeatedly as Flores attempts to hit Hampton with a baton.

Flores loses control of his baton and scurries away with Hampton in pursuit as Hayes follows behind.

“Get on the ground now,” Hayes yells with his gun drawn and pointed at Hampton.

The two men squared off for a moment before Hampton runs away from the officers from one side of the street to the other as Hayes unsuccessfully attempts to pepper spray him.

Hampton cuts between parked cars and appears to be moving toward Hayes with the bottle still in his hand when Hayes fires six shots and Hampton falls to the ground.

As Hampton is rising to his knees, Flores fires the final shot and Hayes appears to yell at the rookie to stop shooting.

Hampton falls back to the ground and the officers begin to render aid.

Hayes and Flores then walk away after other officers arrive on scene. Flores is later seen applying pressure to a wound on his face.

“I didn’t want to f——ng shoot him dude,” Hayes can be heard saying.

It’s unclear which bullets struck Hampton, but police said he was shot three times.

As of Tuesday, he remained at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital in critical condition.

Family and friends said Hampton was shot in the legs and may not be able to walk again.

Flores was also taken to the hospital with head injuries and released later that day.

Hampton is facing two counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and assaulting a peace officer. He has also been charged with vandalism for an unrelated incident, police said.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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