San Francisco Police Chief Resigns After Shooting Death Of Black Woman

Photo: Eric Risberg/AP Images.
San Francisco’s chief of police has resigned after the recent death of a 27-year-old Black woman during an altercation with police, the BBC reports. The death is the latest in a string of incidents that has fueled accusations of racism against the city’s police department.

Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned at the request of Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday, several hours after the unidentified woman was shot and killed. In a statement at San Francisco’s City Hall on Thursday, Lee said he had rescinded his previous support for Suhr. “Following this morning’s officer-involved shooting and my meeting with Chief Suhr this afternoon, today, I have arrived at a different conclusion to the question of how best to move forward,” Lee was quoted as saying by The San Francisco Examiner.

The unidentified woman was killed on Thursday morning when officers encountered her behind the wheel of a car that had been reported stolen, The Mercury News reported. The woman crashed into a parked truck, where the officers opened the door of the suspected stolen car and tried to arrest her. During the altercation, an officer fired a single shot, killing the woman.

About 100 people attended a vigil for the woman on Thursday night, according to NBC Bay Area.

Critics have been calling for Suhr’s resignation for several months over a series of racially charged incidents, including the shooting death of Mario Woods, a young Black man, in December, and the revelation of racist and homophobic text messages exchanged by members of the police force. Last month, a group of activists went on a hunger strike to call for Suhr’s termination, according to NPR.

While the Black Lives Matter movement has been fueled by the high-profile deaths of Black men, including Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown, young Black women have not always made headlines in the same way. After the death of Sandra Bland, a Black woman who was found dead in police custody in July of 2015, the hashtag #SayHerName began appearing on social media to highlight the stories of Black women killed by police.

Lee announced on Thursday that he was appointing Toney Chaplin, a 26-year veteran of the department, who is Black, as acting chief. But activists indicated they won’t be placated by a simple regime change.

"An African-American chief won't help because the culture of the department is rooted in bias and racism," Phelicia Jones, of the Justice for Mario Woods coalition, told The Mercury News.

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