Police chief calls force vital in last shooting; suspect’s dad disagrees 

click to enlarge Talk: Chief Greg Suhr talks to Joseph Stevens, whose son was shot by police. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Talk: Chief Greg Suhr talks to Joseph Stevens, whose son was shot by police.

Allowing cops to carry stun guns isn’t the only way to stop officer-involved shootings in San Francisco. Here’s another way:

“Don’t point a gun at a police officer,” police Chief Greg Suhr said at a community meeting Tuesday to discuss The City’s second officer-involved shooting in less than a month.

Suhr, who last week called for a pilot program to train cops in stun gun use, said having a nonlethal device such as a Taser would not have prevented the latest incident in Potrero Hill on Saturday.

“When an officer is in a gunfight, they’re going to need a gun,” Suhr said.

At 6:36 p.m. Saturday, an officer reportedly shot 31-year-old Brian Cooper multiple times in the 800 block of Missouri Street. Police said Cooper had pulled a handgun from his waistband while running from the cop. At one point he stumbled.

“As he began to stand up, he turned toward the officer and pointed a gun at the officer over his left shoulder,” police reports said. “Fearing for his life, the officer fired, striking the suspect.”

Cooper suffered minor injuries, police said, and has since been transferred from a hospital to County Jail. He was booked on charges of assault on a police officer with a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possessing methamphetamine for sale and resisting arrest, along with having an outstanding parole warrant.

Police first confronted Cooper after a tipster called to report that Cooper was carrying a gun and causing trouble on Dakota Street, which is near Missouri Street.

Still, at Tuesday’s meeting, Cooper’s family and a neighbor expressed frustration over the incident.

Ramon Garcia, 37, a longtime resident of the neighborhood who knows Cooper, said Cooper would not point a gun at an officer.

“I’ve never seen him carrying any weapon,” Garcia said. “He wasn’t suicidal. Anybody knows that pointing a gun at police is a death sentence.”

Police patrolling Potrero Hill need sensitivity training to prevent such interactions, Garcia added. “They come into the neighborhood with a superior attitude,” he said.

Cooper’s father, Joseph Stevens, alleged that police exhibited exactly that kind of behavior when he tried to visit his son in the hospital. He said he was told by a police officer to “go back to the projects.”

“I don’t live in the projects,” Stevens said.

Suhr said police will investigate Stevens’ claim.

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