Police Shooting and Abusing the Homeless in San Francisco: Worst Incidents from 2011-2017

In memory of Luis Góngora Pat—a humble Mayan Mexican, a family man, an immigrant laborer and homeless resident of San Francisco, unjustly executed by two SFPD officers—we have launched a citizen oversight effort of SFPD which we call The People’s Police Observatory. As part of this effort, we will aggregate and publish publicly available data on police abuses and impunity for further community applications. We will disseminate summaries of our findings as well.

Our initial effort focuses on the period that covers the former and now deceased Mayor Ed Lee’s term in office from 2011-2017. Below is a list of the worst incidents of police brutality and abuses during that period that San Francisco police officers carried out specifically against homeless residents of the City.

We grieve deeply for the brutal way in which Luis Góngora Pat was killed by SFPD, and now see that even his death was part of a pattern and practice of abuse carried out by SFPD against the homeless. End Police Impunity!

Download a pdf copy of our report “Police Shooting and Abusing the Homeless in San Francisco, 2011-2017, here!

Date of Incident Name of Victim Name of Officers Consequences for officers Description of incident
1/4/2011 Randal Phillip Dunklin ·    Terence Saw

·     Courtney Smith

·     Noah Mallinger

SFPD Internal Affairs found this use of force to be within policy.

D.A. Gascón pressed charges AGAINST DUNKLIN!


The D.A.’s website does not mention whether he ultimately found officers to have acted criminally or not.

Dunklin was then 55 years old, wheelchair bound and homeless. Dunklin was upset that he was denied services at the Community Behavioral Health Services on Howard Street. He acted out, slashing tires on nearby cars. The police were called in to attend to the mentally ill man. Dunklin was in his wheelchair during the entire encounter with police.


In a fast escalating sequence of events, officers surrounded Dunklin; pepper sprayed him; and shot him with an Extended Range Impact Weapon (ERIW, e.g. bean bag rifle). Dunklin aimlessly threw away the knife in his hand. Ofcs. Terence Saw and Noah Mallinger then shot him each once with a live round, even though there was no threat. The shooting was caught on a cellphone video.


Dunklin was criminally charged by the District Attorney with stabbing an officer, felony assault, and resisting arrest of which he was ultimately acquitted by a jury. The officers claimed fear for their lives and faced no consequence.

7/3/2011 Charles Blair Hill ·     James Crowell, BART Police (Star No. 238) Not under SFPD Internal Affairs jurisdiction


D.A. George Gascón deemed the officers to have acted within law.



Charles Hill was a 45, white homeless man who was showing signs of mental illness at the time of his death. Ofc. Crowell claims that Hill threatened him and killed him with 2 gunshot wounds to the abdomen and left thigh. There is a partial BART video of the incident.


This case caused serious public action and protest, since it happened within the series of other BART killings including Oscar Grant’s.

10/1/2014 Joshua Boling 6-10 officers, which included:

·     James Tacchini

·     Joan Cronin

·     Michael Diskin

·     Elizabeth Prillinger

D.A. George Gascón pressed charges AGAINST BOLING!


Unknown final decisions by SFPD Internal Affairs and D.A. on officers’ actions.


In July 2014, Joshua Boling, 22, a homeless man was beaten badly by cops for walking away from them (not wishing to interact).


He was charged with 8 felony counts and a jury found him not guilty in Oct 2014.

2/1/2015 Bernard Warren Raymond Chu Unknown final decisions by SFPD Internal Affairs and D.A. on officers’ actions.


Bernard Warren was homeless at the time of the incident, and fell asleep on a MUNI bus. The police were called to move him out.

Officer Raymond Chu responded and hit Warren five times with a police baton and pepper sprayed him in an attempt to get him off the bus. He ultimately shoved him off, and arrested him.

8/1/2015 Not identified 42 year old disabled black man Not identified 14 SFPD officers Unknown final decisions by SFPD Internal Affairs and D.A. on officers’ actions.


SFPD officers stopped a 42 year old disabled black man who was carrying his crutches in his hands, while walking down the street. They ended up pinning him on ground, twisting off and stepping on his prosthetic leg, while they pressed his face to the “pissed stain ground.” SFPD officers justified themselves saying it was a “wellness check.” It was all caught on video by a social justice-minded tourist.
4/7/2016 Luis Góngora Pat ·     Nathaniel “Nate” Steger

·     Michael Mellone

Decision pending



Luis Góngora Pat, 45 years of age was homeless at the time of his killing by SFPD. He was a family man, a Mayan Mexican immigrant laborer, and a member of a homeless encampment on Shotwell St. near 18th street.


The entire shooting incident took place in 28 seconds from ofcs exiting vehicle. From a partial video, we know that Michael Mellone shot 5 bean bag rounds (ERIW). From SFPD, we know that both officers shot 7 live rounds, but we do not know how many were shot by each. Per the Medical Examiner’s report, it is clear that Luis was shot to the back first by the ERIW rounds, and then struck by bullets to the back and ultimately to the head with an execution shot as he lay on the ground.

From the video, it would seem that Michael Mellone fired the final execution shot to Luis’s head.


More information at www.justice4luis.org

5/19/2016 Jessica Williams (née Jessica Nelson) Justin Erb, Sgt. (Star No. 686) SFPD Internal Affairs found officers to have acted within policy.


D.A. Gascón deemed the officer’s actions lawful, and declined to charge (Oct. 2017)

Jessica Williams was a 29 year old, African-American woman, who was homeless at the time of her killing. She was also 4 months pregnant according to news article.


She was apparently startled while sleeping in a car, and she turned the car on and left. SFPD pursued her. After she crashed into another car, and could not move the car out, Ofc. Justin Erb shot at her and killed her.


She suffered 1 gunshot wound to the chest, 1 grazing wound on the left forearm, and superficial blunt trauma on the right side of her head.

3/11/2017 Pretty Girl, the pitbull service dog of homeless man, Donald Merchant, was shot and maimed by an SFPD rookie Jordan Townsend Merchant was charged with assault on an officer


Unknown final decisions by SFPD Internal Affairs and D.A. on officers’ actions.


Pretty Girl was a registered service dog to 57 year old homeless man Donald Merchant who suffers from PTSD. Ofc. shot her claiming she was attacking him, and her leg had to be amputated as a result of the shooting.


Ofc. Townsend was a rookie with 4 months on the force.

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