Residents recount circumstances of shooting of SF officer 

click to enlarge crime scene
  • Courtesy Erin Caton
  • A Mission district resident photographed the crime scene on Florida Street between 25th and 26th Streets.
On most Saturday afternoons, Erin Caton and her Florida Street neighbors can be found on their steps. It’s that kind of neighborhood, said the Mission district resident.

But on the afternoon of March 8, when police Officer Adam Shaw and his partner drove their patrol car up Florida Street to check out a report of vandalism, Caton said no residents were out on the street.

Good thing.

A rapid series of gunshots and the sound of screeching tires broke across the street sometime around 2:45 p.m., prompting Caton to throw herself and her toddler son to the ground in their home.

Across the street, another neighbor heard six distinct shots and then heard the skidding of tires.

“As soon as I heard them, my first thought was to look out the window,” said the neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous.

When he did look, smoke — he thinks from burning rubber — clouded his view, but he could see a gray Mustang speed north. The man allegedly in that car, Jeffrey Ruano, had his arraignment postponed Friday. In the opposite direction, the patrol car sat in the middle of the street. Beside the bloodied driver’s side door, one officer — Shaw — was doubled over, another beside him.

Caton, whose house faces the site where the patrol car stopped, said she “heard someone say, ‘officer down.’ …He was holding him and trying to stop the bleeding and on the radio.”

Within minutes more police and an ambulance were clogging what was for the next six hours a crime scene, blocked off with police tape and sprinkled with triangular yellow evidence markers.

The details of the incident, according to police, went something like this: Shaw, who had been shot in the shoulder — and is currently recovering — and his unidentified partner arrived on the scene and saw a suspicious car. When the two officers approached the car on foot, it reversed toward them and Shaw’s partner fired his weapon before the car escaped.

Witnesses heard gunshots come from the car, according to police.

Within 24 hours, the Mustang was discovered abandoned in a Daly City mall’s parking lot, and San Francisco police came upon a man fitting the suspect’s description, which lead to a four-county car chase ending with Ruano’s arrest in San Jose.

Who shot Shaw remains unclear.

Police found no weapon on Ruano, but say they did discover an unspent .38 cartridge. Officers are issued .40-caliber pistols. In any case, the bullet that struck Shaw has yet to be found, and police say without the slug it will be hard to discover whether the shooter was the suspect or Shaw’s partner.

Meanwhile, Ruano, 55, a truck driver from the Mission with prior felony convictions, appeared in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday for what was supposed to be his arraignment.

Ruano has been charged by the District Attorney’s Office with felony assault with a deadly weapon — the Mustang — and possession of ammunition by a felon.

But the shackled, orange-jump-suit-clad man did not enter a plea.

His public defender, Stephen Olmo, instead asked and was granted a postponement of arraignment until Tuesday so he can review case files. Olmo is skeptical that there is enough evidence to charge his client.

“He’s being made the fall guy for one officer shooting another officer,” Olmo claimed after the court hearing. “I think the evidence will show he clearly didn’t assault anyone. He didn’t shoot anyone.”

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

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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