Surveillance video and body camera footage released Tuesday by San Francisco police shed light on the moments that led up to officers shooting a 24-year-old man in the Mission District earlier this month.
Jamaica Hampton, a formerly homeless man from Sacramento, was shot on 23rd Street between Mission and Capp streets on the morning of Dec. 7.
The videos appear to show a man identified by police as Hampton cross the street in front of a police car at 23rd and Mission streets. As an officer opens the passenger door of the vehicle, the man quickly advances toward the car.
A confrontation ensued in which the man appears to strike one of the officers with what police say was a glass vodka bottle. The officers are then seen chasing the man around the street from one side to the other.
At one point, an officer attempts to pepper spray the man. The pursuit comes to a standstill with one of the officers facing off with the man.
As the man runs in the direction of an officer, the officer opens fire and the man falls to the ground. The man then appears to struggle to get up, at which time the other officer discharged his firearm.
The officers begin to render aid to the man.
“Fuck man,” an officer can be heard yelling on the body-worn camera footage. “I didn’t want to do this.”
“I tried to pepper spray him, it didn’t work,” the officer said, appearing to be crying.
Police Chief Bill Scott released the footage at a town hall meeting at Cesar Chavez Elementary School alongside other leaders including Mission Station Capt. Gaetano Caltagirone and Cmdr. Robert O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan identified the officers involved as Christopher Flores and Sterling Hayes. Flores appears to be a rookie who joined the force in November 2018, SFPD records show. The other officer started in July 2013.
Until Tuesday, police had only released a vague description of the incident, saying that Hampton assaulted the officers with a glass bottle and “an officer-involved shooting occurred.”
The video below, provided by police, is only viewable on Vimeo because of the privacy settings of the video.
“Tonight is about transparency,” Scott said. “It is our intention to release the facts in a non-judgmental way.”
The footage offered a clearer timeline for how the incident unfolded. It also prompted outrage from community members who equated the incident to prior police shootings from the Mission.
“Time and distance was not created,” said police reform advocate Magick Altman, referencing de-escalation tactics taught to police. “It happens over and over again and there are no consequences.”
“This is attempted murder,” said state senate candidate Jackie Fielder. “He was clearly not armed with a gun… he was running around the cars like prey fleeing predators. This is no attempt at de-escalation.”
Sitting alongside Scott, O’Sullivan detailed the incident. The commander said two separate 911 calls prompted the officers to search the area for a suspect.
One of the calls was a hot prowl burglary on the 900 block of Capp Street in which a man busted through the door of a residence and encountered the mother of a young child, O’Sullivan said. The other was of a man tampering with cars windows near 25th and Mission streets.
During the search, Hampton crossed in front of their car and the chase took place ending with shots fired.
Hayes fired six shots, Scott said. Flores, the officer who was struck with the bottle, fired one shot. Hampton was struck three times.
One of the officers was taken to the hospital and released later in the day. Witnesses said the officer was bloodied in the face during the confrontation.
Police released photographs of the officer with blood on his head and face.
Hampton was taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital in critical condition. He was later booked from the hospital on suspicion of various charges but not immediately charged.
Then on Tuesday, the District Attorney’s Office filed two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault on an officer and one count of threat to an officer against him. He has also been charged with vandalism in connection with an unrelated incident.
It’s unclear what Hampton was doing that day in the Mission. But friends and family who spoke at the town hall meeting described the incident as out of character with the kind and gentle person they know.
Eve Greenberg, a friend of Hampton’s, called the shooting “disturbing.” Greenberg said Hampton worked as a waiter in Oakland and was not homeless.
“All he wanted to do was help other people,” Greenberg said. “He pulled himself from a dark place, rebuilt his life and was thriving and you tore him down. And I’m disgusted.”
Advocates said soon after the shooting that Hampton had previously been homeless.
Steven Ott, a longtime friend of Hampton’s, questioned whether the first officer who opened fire couldn’t use his baton against Hampton instead of shooting.
“Jamaica is my brother. He is a great guy,” Ott said “I just feel that other uses of force could have been done.”
In October, Hampton was featured in a video by the community service organization CityTeam San Francisco. In the video, Hampton described a hard life in which he entered foster care as a child and later struggled with addiction.
But he appeared to have been recovering and said he wanted to mentor troubled youth.
The shooting marked the first on-duty shooting by the San Francisco Police Department since June 2018.
There are four different investigations ongoing into the police shooting.
But this is the first officer-involved shooting in which the District Attorney’s Office will be the lead agency under a new agreement with police.