The SFPD Killers of Adolfo Delgado
On Friday, March 16, 2018, the San Francisco Police Department released the names of the 10 killers of Adolfo Delgado, who fired a total of 100 times (1 bean bag round and 99 live rounds) at an allegedly armed 19-year-old, fatally striking him about 25 times. They are SFPD officers Loren Chiu, Stephen Cassinelli, John Ishida, Corbyn Carroll, Juan Gustilo, Nicholas Nagai, Sean O’Rourke, Colby Smets, Ari Smith-Russack and Joshua Tupper.
However, their names are not enough. The public demands full accountability and transparency from the police department. Without it we are left to gather information on our own.
Time on the Force
Based on the information pulled from the website https://transparentcalifornia.com which provides salary information for public employees across the state, it appears that Ofcs. Loren Chiu, Stephen Cassinelli, and John Ishida were the “seasoned” cops with 4 years on the SFPD force starting in 2014.
The remaining 7 cops—Corbyn Carroll, Juan Gustilo, Nicholas Nagai, Sean O’Rourke, Colby Smets, Ari Smith-Russack and Joshua Tupper—all had 3 or less years of experience with the SFPD, including what appears to be either a rookie or a transfer cop, Sean O’Rourke, as no records were found for him for 2017, and only one mention of his employment with the SFPD dating back to October of 2017.
Abundant Questions Remain Unanswered
The information scratched out is not enough. Too many questions remain. Chief Scott has failed to reveal ALL NON-CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE OFFICERS INVOLVED. After the death of Adolfo Delgado, we published a series of questions that Chief Scott has refused to address.
Below we repeat the unanswered questions:
1) Why not a standoff with dialogue? In September 2016, an armed white man was surrounded in a 6 hour standoff by police at Civic Center before patiently convincing him to lay down his gun and gain assistance for his suicidal mental state.
In September 2017, the police held a near 6 hour standoff from Saturday 11:30 pm to Sunday 2:50 am with a man barricaded in an apartment, trying to convince him to exit, before they entered the apartment and fatally wounded him.
- Why in the case of Adolfo Delgado, a 19 year old Latino youth, did the police not engage him in dialogue for hours to determine his state of mind and proffer a peaceful solution, as in prior incidents?
2) Publish the dispatch audio
- Please publish the dispatch audio related to this case. We would like to know how officers described the situation and the person in the car in calling for back up.
3) Why did officers speak to the person in the trunk in Spanish?
- Why did the officers decide to speak to the person in the trunk in Spanish, or who told the officers to speak in Spanish to the person in the trunk?
- Did they speak to the person in the trunk in Spanish because they thought this person might not understand in English?
- If they assumed that language was a barrier, why didn’t they use other tactics that would ensure that they knew the person in the trunk was understanding them?
- If they believed this person to be Latino and needed to be spoken to in Spanish, why didn’t they stop to consider issues affecting Latino populations after recent ICE raids, such as fear of deportation, that may make them afraid of law enforcement?
- Since they had stopped other youth in the car that were younger than 21 years old, why did officers not treat the person in the trunk like a youth that would benefit from calm adult outreach, rather than corner him with armed force?
- If police decided to speak to the person in the trunk in Spanish, then they must have believed that the person was of Latino heritage. Did the officers assume the person hiding in the trunk of the car was dangerous because they believed them to be Latino?
- What is the name of the officer shouting the commands in Spanish? We want her badge number, and to know how long she has been on the force and working in the Mission.
4) Who stopped the car, and why?
- Who were the officers who stopped the car? We want their names and badge numbers, and to know how long they have been on the force and working in the Mission.
- Why did they stop the car?
- Were the officers who stopped the car part of the new strategy to abate car break-ins sponsored by Supervisor Hillary Ronen and Chief Scott?
- If so, will you now roll back that strategy knowing that it endangers people of color in the neighborhood who are being racially profiled by this strategy?
- If not, do you believe protecting property is a higher duty of SFPD than protecting the lives of youth of color?
5) Who fired at Adolfo Delgado?
- We have the names and badge numbers of the officers who shot at Adolfo. We still want to have confirmation about how long each has been on the force and working in the Mission.
- What weapons did each of them use?
- How many shots were fired from each weapon and in which sequence?
6) Why did the officers fire at the car first, before giving Adolfo a chance to comply? A video was circulated on the internet shortly after the killing and before the Townhall. At the start of the video, it seems that the car is hit by a shot of some sort. The officer on the loud speaker then commands in Spanish that Adolfo “show his right hand” (in Spanish). She then affirms “we’re going to shoot at you again,” le vamos a tirar otra vez.” Then she commands “show us your left hand” (in Spanish). When Adolfo’s left hand appears a barrage of shots follows.
- Why would an officer shoot at the car first and before instructing Adolfo to show his hands?
- Who gave the initial orders to shoot at the car? We want the officers’ name and badge number, and to know how long they have been on the force and working in the Mission.
- If it is a bean bag rifle or similar, isn’t it a LETHAL WEAPON? They are called less-lethal weapons, but bean bag rifles are still lethal, correct?
- For an officer to use deadly force (including in this case shoot a bean bag rifle), there must be an immediate threat to their life or serious physical injury to another person: What was the immediate threat of loss of life or serious physical injury that the police faced from a person hiding in the trunk of a car surrounded by multiple armed officers? Please explain in great detail. We really want to know this.
5) Why did the police tell the person in the trunk, “we’re going to shoot at you again” if the person had just complied to their command to show his right hand?
- Adolfo had already complied showing his right hand, when the officer chooses to say “we’re going to shoot at you again,” le vamos a tirar otra vez”. Why did the officer tell Adolfo they were going to shoot him, with lethal force, regardless of the fact that he had just complied with her command?
- Why did the officers create a situation in which they cornered a person (who they presumed to be a Latino youth, who could not speak English) in a trunk, telling him he was going to face lethal force, whether he complied with their orders or not?
- Was the fact that the person was hiding not an obvious sign that this person feared something? Why would the police not take the time to try to understand what it was that this young man feared? Why would you escalate a situation by firing rounds at a person hiding before understanding what they were fearful of? We now know that Adolfo was a young Latino man with a deep fear of being deported and losing his entire life in the Mission.
- Now, put yourself in Adolfo’s situation: Don’t you think that any reasonable person listening to police saying “we’re going to shoot at you again”, even if you just complied with their commands, would think that they are about to be shot and possibly killed by police? Officers took away Adolfo’s hope of life. There is no excuse for how police treated Adolfo and ultimately killed him.
7) What has happened to the other youth who were in the car? We understand that a young man named Victor and a young woman Cristina, who were in the car with Adolfo, were taken into custody by SFPD.
- Did SFPD question them at any moment as part of the investigation into this shooting, without a lawyer present?
- Did either or both of these Latino youth give a statement to SFPD investigators before they received legal representation? If so, don’t you think SFPD was behaving opportunistically around their trauma to secure the police narrative of the events?
- We demand that these youth, Cristina and Victor, be released and charges dropped. Will you do that?
8) Did SFPOA representatives have access to the officers involved in the shooting before their official statements were taken?
- Also, isn’t it typical for officers involved in a shooting to talk to their SFPOA representatives before giving statements to investigators to align their stories in a shooting?
9) Why wasn’t the new strategy for car break-in abatement discussed in appropriate community advisory boards?
- The COPS reform process requires that new community policing strategies and processes be put in place, including requiring a new process of problem-solving with community members, before putting crime fighting strategies into place, such as “how to abate car break-ins” or putting more foot patrols in the Mission. Why is this not a top priority of the reform, if it is in essence the most substantial change SFPD can make?
- Isn’t it true that the Mission Police Station is the only police station in the entire City that has not had Community Advisory Boards for years now, even though it is policy?
- Isn’t it true that the clamor around car break-ins has mostly been led by newcomer gentrifiers in the City, mostly white professionals, who are not impacted by racial profiling in policing?
- Isn’t it true that while use of force incidents in the City have gone down, they have gone up in the Mission in three times the number?
- Isn’t it true that use of force incidents in the Mission went up after you quadrupled foot patrols in the Mission?
- Could you please give us demographic data of the people who have been subjected to arrests, stops and detentions in the Mission District since you entered office?
We await confirmation, transparency and accountability from the Police Chief and demand justice for Adolfo Delgado.
This report of the People’s Police Observatory was developed in collaboration with Sadie Stone, a member of SURJ SF. Thank you Sadie and SURJ SF for being good allies to people of color.