Demonstrators hold signs on the steps of City Hall on March 18, 2016, during a rally in support of Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez Lopez and others killed by San Francisco police. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

SF to pay $400K settlement to mother of Mario Woods over fatal police shooting

Details of the proposed agreement had not been made public until now

San Francisco is expected to pay $400,000 to the mother of Mario Woods to settle her lawsuit against The City nearly four years after police shot and killed her son, according to newly released details in the case.

Gwendolyn Woods reached the tentative agreement to end her wrongful death lawsuit in March, but the amount of money The City agreed to pay her over the 2015 police shooting in the Bayview was not disclosed at the time.

The $400,000 figure is included in the settlement agreement that the City Attorney’s Office is introducing to the Board of Supervisors for approval on Tuesday. The board will vote on the agreement at a later date.

In December 2015, five officers fatally shot Mario Woods as the 26-year-old stabbing suspect walked on a sidewalk with a knife in his hand. Videos of the police shooting posted on social media prompted outrage across the nation as police faced heightened scrutiny amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

The incident was one in a series of police shootings that ultimately led to the resignation of former Police Chief Greg Suhr and a review of the San Francisco Police Department by the U.S. Department of Justice that resulted in recommendations for reform that the SFPD is still implementing today.

Gwendolyn Woods filed the lawsuit against the SFPD in federal court days after the shooting seeking unspecified monetary damages.

John Burris, an attorney for the mother, said Monday that Gwendolyn Woods was satisfied with the settlement amount and did not want to experience any further trauma by taking the case to trial.

“The issue here was she wanted to bring closure,” Burris said. “She wanted to put her son to rest.”

John Cote, a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office, also said the settlement “allows us to reach a resolution without the need for a trial.”

“Hopefully it will help bring closure for all involved,” Cote said.

If approved, the $400,000 payout is the largest that the City Attorney’s Office has reached over a police shooting in recent years.

In 2018, The City agreed to pay $275,000 to settle a lawsuit over the shooting of Amilcar Perez-Lopez in the Mission in 2015. Police alleged the Guatemalan immigrant charged at plainclothes police officers with a knife, but his supporters said they shot him in the back.

Then earlier this year, San Francisco reached a settlement in a lawsuit over the shooting of Luis Gongora-Pat for $140,000. Gongora-Pat was allegedly waving a knife at a tent encampment in the Mission when police shot him in 2016. But a video of the shooting raised concerns about whether police took enough time to deescalate the situation before shooting him.

In all three police shooting cases, District Attorney George Gascon declined to file charges against the officers involved.

Cote, the spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office, said that the officers in the Mario Woods case acted “in accordance with the law” and with their training.

“Any loss of life is tragic, and our condolences go out to the loved ones affected here,” Cote said. “Police officers are often forced into difficult situations and have to make split-second decisions in dangerous and evolving circumstances.”

Unlike San Francisco, other cities in California have recently reached multi-million dollar settlements over police shootings.

Just last month, Los Angeles reportedly agreed to pay $3.75 million to the family of a teenager shot by sheriff’s deputies.

San Francisco did, however, recently settle a lawsuit on behalf of the SFPD for $13.1 million after a civil jury found that police framed a former reality TV show contestant, Jamal Trulove, with murder.

This story has been updated to include additional comments.

S.F. Examiner Staff Writer Joshua Sabatini contributed to this report.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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