Justice Dept. to review San Francisco police after shooting death

The U.S. Department of Justice said on Sunday it was set to announce a “comprehensive review” of the San Francisco Police Department, which was the target of protests after a black man was shot and killed by police in December.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Brian Stretch and Ronald Davis, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Director, would hold a news conference in San Francisco on Monday at 2 p.m. PST (1700 GMT Sunday), it said in a statement.

The statement gave no details about the nature or reason for the investigation. Protests broke out in the city in December over the police killing of a black man earlier that month, with demands that the city’s police chief be fired.

San Francisco’s Mayor Edwin Lee and police chief Greg Suhr were also slated to attend the news conference, the Justice Department statement said.

Protesters have railed against Suhr numerous times over the shooting death of 26-year-old Mario Woods, which was captured on camera by bystanders and described as unnecessary by the San Francisco public defender.

Suhr said Woods, who was a suspect in a stabbing, was a threat to officers. He has called for equipping his police force with Tasers to prevent similar shootings in the future.

Police said they first tried using pepper spray and firing bean bag rounds at Woods, who they said refused orders to drop a knife he was holding.

Video of the shooting showed one of about a dozen officers in a phalanx move directly in front of Woods, who was attempting to walk away. Officers opened fire, killing him in a hail of gunfire.

Police said in a statement he was a danger to others and that “officers could not allow him room to harm anyone else.”

Woods’ family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city in December.

The San Francisco shooting came amid U.S. unrest over high-profile police killings of black people from cities like Ferguson, Missouri, to Chicago and Baltimore since mid-2014, and a renewed civil rights movement under the name Black Lives Matter.

In May, San Francisco’s district attorney appointed three retired judges to review the integrity of 3,000 arrests involving more than a dozen police officers who engaged in racist and homophobic text messages.

District Attorney George Gascón said the officers’ actions compromised public trust in law enforcement.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Paul Tait)

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