[Hpn] Rally protests police shooting

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Wed, 20 Jun 2001 17:51:03 -0700


http://www.examiner.com/news/default.jsp?story=n.protest.0620w

Rally protests police shooting

By Dan Evans
Of The Examiner Staff

A group of about 20 people gathered outside the Hall of Justice on Tuesday
to protest the 20 bullets fired by police in the death of a knife-wielding
man with a long history of mental illness.

San Francisco police officers fatally shot Idris Stelley, 23, inside the
Sony Metreon theater last Wednesday. Although officers first attempted to
subdue Stelley with pepper spray, they reported, the chemicals had little
effect because Stelley was wearing glasses. The officers said they then
tried to knock the knife out of his hands, but were unsuccessful.

After Stelley lunged at the officers, tearing the clothing of one, at least
three officers opened fire inside the nearly emptied theater. The police
performed CPR for almost half an hour, but Stelley was pronounced dead at
11:50 p.m. 

Stelley's mother, Meshá Mongé-Irizarry, attended Tuesday's rally. As she
wiped tears from her eyes, she told those gathered that she wanted police to
help her son, but they butchered him instead.

Van Jones, a member of Bay Area PoliceWatch, said it is outrageous that the
officers -- armed with guns and bulletproof vests -- couldn't take down a
single man without killing him. Jones, who displayed a two-inch knife before
the many TV cameras present, said police feared a blade no bigger than the
one he held. 

San Francisco Police Chief Fred Lau stressed that several investigations
into the tragic incident are ongoing.

Withing the department, Lau said, the Homicide and Management Control
divisions -- the latter is similar to Internal Affairs -- are conducting
examinations. Independent of the police, the District Attorney's Office and
Medical Examiner also are looking into the matter.

Lau also said he couldn't comment on whether the officers acted
appropriately. 

Mongé-Irizarry said Stelley suffered from a borderline personality disorder,
and he went to see the movie "Swordfish" with his girlfriend, Summer
Galbreath. Once inside, Stelley, reacting to a scene, lit a cigarette.
Security guards told him to extinguish the cigarette, but he refused,
showing the guards a knife.

The alarmed guards alerted Metreon management, who called police. Galbreath
also called police, asking that her boyfriend of five years be taken to San
Francisco General Hospital for treatment. Galbreath then called
Mongé-Irizarry.

While frantically discussing with Galbreath how to keep Stelley from hurting
himself or anyone else, Galbreath said, Mongé-Irizarry heard the sharp
reports from the guns that ended her son's life.

"(The police) were there to help him, and take him to the hospital, and they
killed him instead," Galbreath said.

E-mail Dan Evans at devans@sfexaminer.com

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