Man fatally shot by police had contacted officer with troubling texts 

click to enlarge Police Chief Greg Suhr, right, addresses the public at a town hall meeting Tuesday following Sunday’s fatal shooting of a 32-year-old man by two sergeants. - JONAH OWEN LAMB/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Jonah Owen Lamb/The S.f. Examiner
  • Police Chief Greg Suhr, right, addresses the public at a town hall meeting Tuesday following Sunday’s fatal shooting of a 32-year-old man by two sergeants.

The 32-year-old man who wrote an apparent suicide note before being fatally shot by two police officers Sunday had sent disturbing messages to a Connecticut police officer and indicated to his father that he was in a dark place.

"This person wanted to be sure the officers did what he wanted them to do," Police Chief Greg Suhr said Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in the Mission, where Matt Hoffman was shot after displaying what was later found to be an air gun.

The newest information pointing to Hoffman's state of mind in the still ongoing police investigation found that in February, a Norwalk, Conn., police officer had received disturbing text messages from Hoffman.

The texts, Suhr said, asked "What would happen if a person would point a fake gun at a cop from 6 feet away? What if the person told the cop he was going to shoot the cop after a count of three."

Suhr, who laid out in detail what appeared to be the actions of a man looking to die, said Hoffman had come to San Francisco with plans that apparently had fallen through and he had recently broken up with his girlfriend.

The events leading up to the 5:20 p.m. shooting incident started at noon, when Hoffman contacted his adopted father in Florida and thanked him for all he had done for him, Suhr said. Hoffman then told his father he still planned to go to work the next day, so his father was not overly worried for his son.

At 2:15 p.m. two Mission Police Station officers on a traffic stop were approached by Hoffman, who asked about their weapons and if they had ever shot someone, Suhr said.

An hour later, he approached another officer near 16th and Mission streets and asked the same kinds of questions.

At 5:18 p.m., three officers saw Hoffman sitting in a restricted area in the Mission station and he was told to leave.

Instead of leaving, he stood inside the parking lot.

He then began to back away from the officers and put his hand in his waistband, police said. The officers then pulled out their guns and asked Hoffman to show his hands.

Hoffman then backed out of the driveway into the street and lifted his shirt showing part of what looked like a pistol.

Then, said Suhr, he "pulled the weapon and pointed it at the officers. The two sergeants fired their weapons a total of 10 times, five each, striking Mr. Hoffman three times."

The two officers who fired their weapons were both sergeants, one with a 25-year career and another with a 6½-year career.

Their names have yet to be released.

After the incident, police found several notes on Hoffman's cellphone, Suhr said. One of the notes was addressed to police, absolving them of any wrongdoing. Another was addressed to his father and a third to his former girlfriend, whom he had broken up with recently.

"I spoke to Mr. Hoffman yesterday," Suhr said about the deceased man's father, to whom he gave the younger Hoffman's note.

The incident was captured in part by cameras at the site, Suhr said, but Hoffman could not be seen in the footage since he was underneath several trees.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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