Gascon: Machete incident warranted gun 

Despite a personal push to use Tasers, police Chief George Gascón said Monday he would have drawn his handgun instead of a stun gun to halt an attack by a potentially suicidal man wielding a machete.

“If I have a guy with a machete about 4 or 5 feet away, I’m not going to pull out a Taser. I’m going to pull out a gun,” Gascón said at a news conference to address the officer-involved fatal shooting last weekend.

Two officers from the Ingleside Police Station went to 87 Maynard St. at 5:25 p.m. Saturday to perform a welfare check.

One officer shot Edward Smith at least three times at his Mission Terrace home after the 65-year-old was asked to show his hands, which were concealed behind his back. He was holding a machete with a 19-inch blade, and he lunged at the officer. Smith died at the scene.

“It looks really like a classic suicide-by-cop incident,” Gascón said.

Officers responded to the house after a call was placed to police that Smith had been drinking and taking medication. The caller said Smith did not have a violent history, police Lt. Lyn Tomioka said.

Gascón played a tape Monday of a call Smith made to his physician minutes before the shooting.

“Just call the cops ... not my house anymore,” Smith told his doctor. “So I’m going to try to take them out when they come to take me. It’s all over today, doctor. It’s all over today.”

The shooting came just days after a report ordered by Gascón evaluated 15 officer-involved shootings in a recent five-year period and suggested that less-lethal options could have prevented several deaths.

Gascón wants his officers to carry Tasers, but he’s also said he does not want to give an impression that they are a cure-all.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he did not know whether a Taser would have prevented Smith’s death, but he trusts the police chief’s decisions. Newsom said he “appointed police Chief Gascón because I wanted to make changes and make tough calls.”

On Thursday, the Police Department will hold a community meeting at a location yet to be determined to answer any questions and concerns the public may have about the incident.

The officer who shot Smith has been with the Police Department for three years and was employed by the Sheriff’s Office before joining the force. He has no prior shootings on his record, Tomioka said. He and the other responding officer have been assigned to the operations bureau and are undergoing standard testing before they can be cleared to return to active duty.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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Friday, May 25, 2018

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