A San Francisco woman shot and killed by police on St. Patrick’s Day after she rammed cars and endangered pedestrians near Pine Street and Van Ness Avenue had been wanted on two warrants and was driving a stolen car, Police Chief Greg Suhr revealed Monday night during a town hall meeting not far from the incident.
Suhr said the vehicle’s license plates had been removed and replaced.
But several witnesses and the family of Alice Brown, 24, were among the raucous and at times angry crowd in attendance at the meeting. Many wondered aloud whether Brown’s behavior Tuesday was driven by fear of two men dressed in plainclothes, as opposed to an intent to harm anyone.
The two plainclothes officers were identified during the meeting as Michael Tursi and Thomas Maguire.
Suhr began the meeting by giving a brief description of Tuesday’s events. Just after 7 p.m. the two officers approached the blue four-door Volkswagen Jetta, a stolen Zipcar, as part of an investigation into a reportedly stolen car.
As Brown sat in the car at a Chevron station, the pair approached and identified themselves as officers, their badges hanging around their necks.
Brown didn’t respond to their calls to stop, backed into the gas station and sped up Pine Street, hitting cars and nearly hitting bystanders, Suhr said. After the car headed up and down Pine Street with police in pursuit, Tursi fired two rounds at the car, fearing the vehicle would hit someone or his fellow officer.
“No one was injured,” noted Suhr, who added that the officers are trained to only fire when imminent danger is present, and that was the case Tuesday. “We do not shoot to kill, we shoot to end the threat.”
The brief meeting ended when much of the crowd started chanting after one woman, Cadine Williams, began blowing a whistle when the speakers would talk. Williams’ brother, 26-year-old O’Shaine Evans, was killed by police last year after he allegedly pointed a pistol at an officer.
Three witnesses to the Brown shooting were in attendance, but their stories differed.
“That was not what went down,” an emotional Tammy Marlean hollered at one point during Suhr’s presentation. “What you said was not true.” Marlean said she wondered whether Brown knew the plainclothes officers were police. Marlean claimed she never saw any police at the gas station and that she heard five shots, not two as Suhr reported.
But Michel Herzberg-Moran, who said she was “terrified” as Brown crashed into cars and threatened pedestrians, said the story as told by Suhr was what she remembered.
“The car was being used as a weapon,” she said, as others shouted around her at the contentious meeting.
Herzberg-Moran’s story did align with others, although she didn’t know the plainclothes officers were police.
“I didn’t see police at the gas station,” she said.
A third witness, who didn’t want to be identified, said the department’s official version of events was what she saw. But she, too, didn’t know the plainclothes officer she saw with a gun was a member of law enforcement.
Brown’s family, several of whom were at the meeting, did not make a statement. They have hired the law firm of civil-rights attorney John Burris to investigate the incident.