A man killed by police officers in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood last month appeared to have fired at least three bullets during a standoff in which he held his girlfriend and two children hostage.
Damian Murray, 46, was shot shortly before 3 a.m. Sept. 24 when officers forced their way into an apartment in the first block of Salmon Street following an hours-long standoff triggered by a domestic violence call.
At a town hall meeting Tuesday, police released a segment of body camera video of the incident and new information on what occurred during the deadly standoff, but declined to give details of exactly what prompted officers to fire, saying the incident remains under investigation.
Officers first came into contact with Murray around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, when they responded to a report of a domestic violence incident involving a weapon.
When they arrived at the scene they heard a woman yelling for help inside and Murray saying to get back or he would start shooting, Cmdr. Greg McEachern said. They then heard what sounded like a gunshot.
The officers retreated and called in hostage negotiators, who worked to get Murray to surrender and release the 41-year-old woman and two children, ages 11 and 5, still inside.
Around 2:50 a.m., however, he stopped speaking to police, McEachern said.
Officers forced entry into the apartment after hearing what sounded like another shot inside, and encountered Murray, his girlfriend and the children inside a bedroom.
Two officers fired two shots each as they entered the bedroom, striking Murray. Police today identified those officers as Officer Jason Robinson, a 15-year-veteran of the force, and Officer Wilrolan Ravelo, a nine-year veteran. Both of them are with the special operations bureau.
“It’s important to know that we responded to a domestic violence situation where after three hours of negotiating the incident developed quickly into a life-or-death situation,” McEachern said. “This was a difficult situation for the officers to navigate.”
Police released a short 20-second clip of body-worn camera footage taken from one of the officers tonight, but little of the shooting can be made out after the first officer enters the bedroom.
Sections of the video were blocked out to protect the identities of the victims, and police chose not to release the rest of the video to protect both tactical maneuvers by the officers and the privacy of the victims, according to Chief William Scott.
“The video is over 60 minutes in its entirety but the majority of it depicts our tactical team’s entry tactics and it also depicts crimes victims, including juvenile victims, and per our policy we will not release those portions of the video,” Scott said.
In addition, the officer from whom the footage was taken had audio muted, and the second officer did not have his body camera on during the shooting.
Scott said that department policy allows officers to mute or turn off cameras during discussions of tactics such as those used to enter the apartment.
Murray was detained and taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Police recovered a handgun from Murray and said it appeared to have been shot at least three times. However they declined to say whether he was armed with it when police entered the room or whether officers perceived a danger to themselves or others, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The standoff and shooting frightened neighbors and sent bullets flying. At least one bullet hole in the Salmon Street apartment was made when a bullet flew out of the bedroom through the wall and into the alley, police said.
One resident told police she had heard around eight shots, and offered an audio recording of the incident.
Cindy, who declined to give a last name, told police that one bullet had landed inside the dining room of her 92-year-old mother, who lives directly across the street, and another had deflected off the window frame.
“She’s quite shaken by it, nothing like this has ever happened like this in the neighborhood,” Cindy said.
Cindy said police had had to break down her mother’s door to reach her.
“They knocked, they rang the bell, she heard the commotion, but you know we always told her not to open the door,” she said. “She didn’t look out the window and I’m glad she didn’t.”
Capt. Paul Yep said he had heard from a number of community members expressing concern for the victims, especially the children, and had taken steps to make sure they were receiving “every available service” from The City.
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