(6/17/2016) Claim filed by Góngora Family against SFPD
CLAIMANT’S NAMES: Fidelia Del Carmen May Can; Rosana Guadalupe Góngora May; Luis Rodolfo Góngora May; and Angel De Jesus May, co-successors-in-interest for Decedent Luis Góngora Pat.
On June 17, 2016, the family of Luis Góngora Pat filed a complaint against the San Francisco Police Department & the City & County of San Francisco for his unlawful killing.
A complaint is the precursor action to filing a civil case against the City for wrongful death and excessive use of force.
Extract of claim
LAW OFFICES OF JOHN L. BURRIS www.johnburrislaw.com
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
On April 8, 2016, at approximately 10:00 a.m., Decedent Luis Gongora Pat was sitting on the ground, on the the 400 block of Shotwell Street, in San Francisco, California.
City of San Francisco Police Sgt. Nate Steger, Officer Michael Mellone and a third yet-to- be-identifed Officer arrived on the 400 block of Shotwell after someone reported a man with a knife. The three Officers parked their cars in the middle of the street and rapidly approached Mr. Gongora, who was sitting on the ground, by himself, leaning against the exterior wall of a building and minding his own business. There were no civilians in Mr. Gongora’s vicinity and Mr. Gongora was not threatening or harming anyone. While Mr. Gongora is reported to have had a knife on his person for safety reasons; as is common among the homeless population, he was not wanted for any crime and was not a threat to himself or anyone else.
Mr. Gongora spoke Mayan and only understood a limited amount of English and Spanish. Despite the Officers’ claims they gave Mr. Gongora orders to “get on the ground” in both English and Spanish, on the video tape capturing the incident, the Officers can only be heard giving orders in English. Witnesses recount Mr. Gongora remained crouched down on the ground with his head down, cowering in fear, unable to understand what the Officers were shouting.
The Officers quickly closed in on Mr. Gongora, abandoning all recommended de- escalation tactics and failing to maintain adequate distance and space to properly assess the situation and avoid unnecessary force. While Mr. Gongora was sitting on the ground, one of the Officers came up to him and began rapidly discharging a rubber projectile shotgun, striking Mr. Gongora multiple times in the side and back area. After the officers began using force against Mr. Gongora they did not provide any additional commands or give Mr. Gongora the opportunity to comply with their initial orders. Mr. Gongora was injured from multiple rubber projectiles and tried to move away from his attacker, when a second officer began to shoot him with live ammunition. The two Officers were simultaneously pelting Mr. Gongora with lethal and non-lethal rounds from both sides, as he attempted to escape with his life.
The Officer who initially started shooting Mr. Gongora with rubber bullets transitioned to his handgun and began shooting the wounded man with live rounds. In a shocking visual image, the officer can be seen shooting down at the wounded man, with a handgun in one hand and a shotgun in the other, in a scene that is reminiscent of a gangster movie. The double fisted shooter can be seen on video shooting down at Mr. Gongora, who received bullet wounds to the top of his head and another down into his back, in addition to gunshots to both arms and his abdomen. In less than 30 seconds of arriving on scene, Mr. Gongora had been hit with five (5) rubber projectiles and six (6) live rounds.
Tellingly, a third officer was present on scene and did not even unholster his weapon or engage in any force whatsoever.
Mr. Gongora died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds, leaving behind three adult children, a wife and an outraged community.