Witnesses corroborate police shooting details

Police say more than a dozen civilian witnesses corroborate their account of Wednesday’s fatal officer-involved shooting in the Financial District.

A veteran female officer shot mentally ill Pralith Pralourng twice in the chest, police say, after he lunged at her with a blood-soaked utility knife near Washington and Davis streets. The officer was backed up against a squad car and had no choice but to shoot, Lt. Hector Sainez said.

Minutes before the 10:15 a.m. shooting, the 32-year-old Cambodian allegedly slashed a co-worker in an unprovoked attack at the TCHO chocolate factory on Pier 17 along The Embarcadero.

At a community hearing Friday, police Chief Greg Suhr refuted early Twitter chatter that the Oakland resident was shot while handcuffed. Investigators interviewed as many as 20 witnesses, police said.

“They pretty much tell the same story we do,” Suhr said.

According to his family, the schizophrenic Pralourng had stopped taking his medication about a year ago and was having financial troubles. Two months ago, he threatened to burn down his family’s home, Sainez said, and he hadn’t slept for days before his death.

About 10 a.m. that morning, Sainez said, Pralourng greeted a co-worker who was cleaning machinery. After the co-worker greeted him back, Pralourng reportedly attacked him without provocation. The co-worker, who hasn’t been identified, suffered a minor defensive wound to his arm, police said.

Pralourng, who reportedly had “a crazy look on his face,” then chased the victim out onto The Embarcadero, Sainez said. Co-workers tried to reason with him “to no avail,” and they called 911 as he left the victim alone and began walking southbound.

Police caught up with him at Washington and Drumm streets. He was wearing a white cotton hairnet and was still armed with the blade. He did not run, Suhr said, but was unresponsive and continued walking with a “blank” stare.

When he reached Davis Street, police took action, fearing the confrontation would spill into a more populated area. Pralourng was asked several times to drop his weapon, Suhr said. Instead, police said, he lunged at the female officer in his path and was shot.

He was then handcuffed for safety reasons, Suhr said, but police unshackled him and administered CPR after realizing the extent of his injuries. He later died at San Francisco General Hospital.


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