San Francisco’s Chief of Police Gregory P. Suhr saw his last day as chief on Thursday [May 19, 2015] as tensions far surpassed the boiling point when a police officer fatally shot a 27-year old black woman, the third killing since December involving the police force.
Amid a federal investigation due to complaints of racial bias within the department and a recent pledge to not resign, Chief Suhr departed from the San Francisco police department, only the latest in a recent slew of big-city police chiefs coming under fire for the deaths of African-American civilians at the hands of law enforcement.
“These officer-involved shootings, justified or not, have forced our city to open its eyes to questions of when and how police use lethal force,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee who asked Suhr to resign, staing that the chief had made “meaningful” refroms, “but not fast enough”.
Previous incidents of San Francisco police officers sending racist text messages, the killing of a black Mario Woods in December, and another Hispanic man in April have all led up to this point and Suhr’s subsequent removal from the department.
Thursday’s shooting occured in the Bayview neighborhood, the same palce that Mario Woods was killed in December. According to the Associated Press, a sergeant shot and killed a woman as he and his partenr attempted to pull her out of an allegedly stolen car that she’d crashed into a parked truck.
In spite of all this, Chief Suhr has still managed to hold on to a reputation with prominent Black leaders who believe he was genuinely involved in working to reform the police department,
“This is a good, compassionate man who has been scapegoated. He was trying to change the culture of the police force,” said Rev. Amos C. Brown, head of San Francicso’s NAACP chapter. “I still feel that we were on our way, under his leadership, to do good things with that department.”
Since Suhr’s resignation, Mayor Lee has named Deputy Chief Toney Chaplin as interim chief of police. Chaplin, an African-American, is a 26-year veteran with the force, with Rev. Amos describing him as someone with “character, competency and the chemistry and courage to continue what we have started.”