Trust the police?

Relations between the cops and certain communities have been strained over the last year

Protestors blocked Muni on the anniversary of Kenneth Harding Jr.'s death.

On July 16, 2011, Kenneth Harding Jr. lay bleeding on the ground. He was surrounded by San Francisco Police officers, who were in turn surrounded by neighbors and community members. The minutes ticked by and no ambulance arrived. After 28 minutes, Harding was dead at 19. The official story: after being stopped in a Muni fare check, Harding ran from police, drew a gun, and shot himself.

A year later, family members and community supporters maintain that the official story is a lie. A protest on his death's anniversary this week shut down Muni service for an hour in his honor.

But protesters weren't speaking of just Harding. Since he was killed by law enforcement officers, so were Charles Hill, Alan Blueford, and Derrick Gaines. All have led to varying degrees of protest that feed tensions between the cops and segments of the community.

Hill's fatal shooting by a BART cop in San Francisco sparked last summer's OpBART demonstrations, the energy from which flowed into early manifestations of the Bay Area's Occupy movement, which was also marked by tense standoffs with cops that were followed by "fuck the police" marches throughout the Bay Area.

Despite such lingering tensions, Mayor Ed Lee recently suggested curbing gun violence by giving cops stop-and-frisk authority, a controversial idea that has been the subject of massive protest movements in New York City where what critics say is widespread racial profiling heightens tensions between police and communities of color.

Lee's idea was widely criticized, triggering the Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution on July 10 criticizing the idea, urging Lee to abandon it, and saying it would destroy trust between the community and police.

There has always been tension in San Francisco between police and segments of the community, but a series of emotional, high-profile episodes and unsatisfying official responses over the last year has frayed that relationship even more than normal.



When Harding was killed, his mother Denika Chatman moved from Seattle to San Francisco. She wanted to convict the officers she believes murdered him. But the SFPD announced within weeks of the shooting that Harding had shot himself.

Now, Chatman and attorney John Burris have filed a federal lawsuit. "I know that it was murder," she said. "I know his human rights had been violated."

Chatman and other family members and friends maintain that when Harding was stopped while off-boarding the T train by SFPD officers and asked for proof of paying the $2 fair, he was unarmed. Harding ran, and those officers drew guns and shot him.

Police say that Harding had pulled out a gun as he ran and shot at police, prompting their return fire. They didn't recover a gun at the scene, but after a weeklong "community effort," police say a neighbor turned in a gun found at the scene.

The gun shot .38 caliber bullets, police reported—smaller than the .40 caliber bullets in a standard-issue SFPD weapon. The police crime lab then concluded Harding's fatal wound was from a .38 caliber bullet, a finding confirmed later by the Office of the Medical Examiner.

A widely circulated video show's Harding on the ground, bleeding to death, as police stand around him.

But as SFPD spokesperson Carlos Manfredi tells it, "The officers did not just stand around. Officers had just been involved in a violent confrontation, they were fearful for their lives...A hostile crowd began surrounding the officers."


"Chatman and other family members and friends maintain that when Harding was stopped while off-boarding the T train by SFPD officers and asked for proof of paying the $2 fair, he was unarmed. Harding ran, and those officers drew guns and shot him."

According to data from ShotSpotter — which was deployed in the Bayview in 2008 — three separate firearms unloaded 10 shots over six seconds. The first shot was one of two fired from where Harding was located, police said. Two to six seconds later, eight more shots were fired from where the officers were located.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

Today is the first day of progressive history.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet users, its really nice.

Posted by Tampa child support lawyer on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

-to-corporate-entity program, I take any "information" provided by them through the police with a half-pound of salt.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

I've also come to realize that radiocarbon dating is a plot by a Jewish elite to subvert God's truth that the earth was created 5000 years. So I take all that dinosaur, caveman shit with a FULL-pound of salt.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

ShitSpitter isn't propaganda. No sirree. It's hard science, exactly like radiocarbon dating. 'Coz the cops who put up the data on ShitSpitter would ALWAYS put up stuff that makes them look bad! If there's evidence that doesn't corroborate the official police line, you can trust the police who put up the data on ShitSpitter to put up the truth. Why? Because authorities never lie. Duh.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

A cavalcade of evidence which requires dozens if not hundreds of people needing to remain silent or complicit is self evident.

Shot splitter shots are recorded digitally. Time is a construct made up by the establishment.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead."
Benjamin Franklin

The speed of light is just another way of knowing.

It is so amazing that the progressives who claim intellectual greatness are those who loath science when it doesn't work out for them.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

Exactly, Lili. I didn't even bother click the link till you explained what ShitSpitter is. I didn't need to, because I figured it was something like that. Clicking to the Examiner confirms what I already knew.

Matlock's reasoning amounts to:

Matlock: I believe the police version of the story and refuse to consider anything else.


Matlock: Because I learn'd it on da ShitSpitter.

But Matlock, doesn't ShitSpitter just get their data from the cops? Isn't it actually run by the cops?

Matlock: Well I believe the cops.

But why?

Matlock: Because what the authorities say is corroborated by ShitSpitter.

It's always the first day of history for Matlock.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

"first day of history" -- elegant.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

I'm Greg, "I think right wingers are dumb because they approach science the same way I do, they think the earth is 7000 years old because of the bible, while I think that the speed of sound is a construct."

Posted by matlock on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

One problem is that this miracle technology doesn't work, or doesn't work correctly, a lot of the time:

In addition to making craploads of errors, there are always issues of data interpretation. When a corporation that wants to keep a lucrative city contract with the police (or the police themselves), are providing the interpretation, such interpretation is always suspect.

Lilli's right. It's a boondoggle, a taxpayer funded giveaway to a corporation with close ties to the cops. That was my instinct to begin with, and a quick google search confirms that my instincts were correct.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

Also from this author

  • Privatization of public housing

    Many residents feel they're moving from the frying pan of Housing Authority control into the fire of developer and nonprofit management

  • Homeless for the holidays

    Changing demographics in the Bayview complicate city efforts to open a shelter there

  • Betting on Graton

    Newest casino targeting Bay Area residents promises to share the wealth with workers and people of color