Media covers disparity between police version and eyewitness & neighbor accounts

Mission Local: Eyewitnesses Speak Up at Vigil for Amilcar López-Pérez, 3/8/2015

For the first time the roommates of the 21 year-old Guatemalan shot to death by two plainclothes officers on Feb. 26 have come forward to give their version of events.

The two roommates, who asked that their name not be used for fear of reprisals, offered their statements to some 60 neighbors, activists, community members, and relatives of other victims killed by police who gathered at a Saturday vigil for Amilcar López-Pérez.

“The day he was killed, we saw everything,” one said in Spanish. “I want to say everything I know, but I am scared,” he said adding that he feared being deported for not cooperating with police.

Both of the roommates are facing an eviction at the end of the month.

Once again, their version differed sharply from the official version which casts López-Pérez as allegedly attempting to steal a bicycle with a knife when two plainclothes officers came on the scene at 9:45 p.m.  The alleged victim thanked police for saving his life, police reported on the night of the incident.

However, neighbors and eye witnesses  assert that police walked into a crime in progress and confused López-Pérez as a suspect, when in fact he was the victim.  The witnesses said that the cyclist stole López-Pérez’s cell phone and he was chasing after him.

One of the eyewitnesses offered more details at Saturday’s vigil.  “The cops came from behind him,” he said. “He didn’t realize they were cops. He squirmed away and ran towards the two (parked) cars. They ordered him to drop the weapon, he did -over there- (he signaled to the side of the altar on the sidewalk) and then they shot him.”

The witness said he has “been quiet, but I can’t sleep.”  He made the statements in Spanish to some 60 people gathered around the memorial on Folsom Street, near 25th.

Mission Local: At Vigil on Folsom St, Sharply Different Account of Police Shooting, 3/2/2015

While some neighbors said earlier that López had been drinking all day and attempted to steal a bicycle with a knife when he was shot and killed by police last Thursday at 9:45 p.m on Folsom and 25th Streets; others told a different story on Sunday night.  Their story – including eyewitness accounts – indicate there was confusion by police on who was the victim – in part, because Perez-López had a knife.

One of his roommates, who declined to give his name, said López was on the street when a person known to the area took his cellphone and took off on a bicycle. López went into his house to get a knife to recover his phone. Then, plainclothes cops appeared “from out of nowhere and one grabbed him from behind,” said López’s roommate, who saw the incident.

Eduardo Román, a contractor who often used to work with López for a refrigerator maintenance company, said the two had been working on Thursday at a nearby restaurant on 21st and South Van Ness before he dropped off López at around 8:30 p.m. Little more than an hour later, López had been shot and killed by police.

When Román dropped him off, Román said, López was not drunk and had not been drinking on the job, but it is possible that he had a few drinks after work.

On the night of the incident, police reported that López  was chasing another man on Folsom at 9:45 p.m. But instead of him chasing someone who had taken his cell phone, police reported that López had allegedly been trying to steal the bicycle of the man he was chasing.

“According to several witnesses, the officers ordered the suspect to drop the knife,” wrote Sergeant Monica MacDonald in a description of the incident on that Thursday night. “The situation escalated and the officers fired at the suspect.”

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said that evening that the officers “fired between four and six times, which is consistent with the casings recovered from the scene.”

The two officers were placed on administrative leave.

On Sunday night activists, neighbors, and some friends of López gathered at the vigil to speak against the use of force by police. They described López as a short man –he was only 5’0, who did not speak English and would often work 12-14 hour shifts to cover his multiple jobs in construction and restaurants.

SFGate: Neighbors furious over fatal police shooting in Mission, 3/3/2015

A man fatally shot by police in San Francisco’s Mission District last week was not a knife-wielding robbery suspect, his friends and neighbors said Monday, but a hardworking Guatemalan immigrant who was trying to get his cell phone back from the man police said he was trying to rob.

Neighbors provided a conflicting version of the shooting that killed Amilcar Perez-Lopez, 21, as San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr stood by the police account that Perez-Lopez was armed and trying to steal a bicycle from another man when two plainclothes officers encountered him at 24th and Folsom streets about 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

“Lies! Those are lies!” community members shouted at the chief as he tried to speak at a town hall meeting at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

CBS Local: Religious Leaders Condemn Fatal SFPD Shooting of Man Witnesses Say Was Real Robbery Victim, 3/11/2015

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The demands of justice for Amilcar Perez-Lopez, the 21-year-old Guatemalan man shot and killed by two San Francisco police officers last month continued outside City Hall on Wednesday.

Faith leaders and community members decided to file a complaint with the city’s Office of Citizen Complaints in hopes that an independent investigation into the shooting will be conducted.

Community members have disputed the police version of events that led up to Perez-Lopez’s death on February 26th and rejected a police allegation that Perez-Lopez was trying to steal a bicycle at the time of the shooting.

San Francisco Chronicle reported that neighbors of Perez-Lopez talked to witnesses who were interviewed and that none of them support the police version of the story that Perez-Lopez was trying to steal the man’s bicycle.

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