Home News SFPD Chief defends police training following deadly OIS

SFPD Chief defends police training following deadly OIS

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A deadly shooting incident involving two San Francisco Police Department officers that occurred on Thursday has raised some concerns about the department’s crisis intervention training.

In an interview with KTVU on Saturday, SFPD Chief Greg Suhr defended his department’s crisis intervention training.

According to Suhr, the incident occurred after two senior police sergeants were hailed by a construction worker who told them that a man was throwing glass bottles onto the street.

Screen shot from video.
A construction worker flagged down two officers after an encounter with a man throwing glass bottles onto the street. Screen shot from video.

The construction worker told the officers that he approached the man and asked him to stop because the glass could damage the tires on construction vehicles. The man refused and allegedly became hostile toward the construction worker, then challenged him to call the police.

Suhr said one of the officers approached the man and attempted to take him into custody. As the officer was trying to put handcuffs on the man, a violent struggle ensued. The suspect, who was later identified as 27-year-old Herbert Benitez, took the officer to the ground and tried to take his gun.

Screen shot from video.
Officers were called to the scene of an officer-involved shooting for an investigation into the incident. Screen shot from video.

Benitez eventually got the officer’s gun, which prompted the officer to yell to his partner, “He’s got my gun. He’s got my gun. Shoot him.”

Suhr said the officer’s partner fired two shots at Benitez, striking him down. The gun Benitez was holding fell on the sidewalk.

Police were called to investigate the area of 8th and Market streets in San Francisco after reports of an officer-involved shooting. Screen shot from video.
Police were called to investigate the area of 8th and Market streets in San Francisco after reports of an officer-involved shooting. Screen shot from video.

Benitez died at the scene, and both officers were taken to a hospital. Both officers sustained injuries but are in stable condition.

According to Suhr, the officer that was taken to the ground was very shaken by the ordeal. “He thought that was it,” said Suhr. “It doesn’t get any scarier than that.”

The sergeant has been with the department for more than 25 years.

Police investigators are talking to Benitez’s family members to try and figure out what led up to the violent confrontation.

“We have more crisis intervention trained officers than any other department, I think in the country,” said Suhr. “But very sadly, once in a while, we’re unable to resolve it, and it never gets any sadder.”

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