2011-07-22 "BOMBSHELL: SFPD Now Says Kenneth Harding Shot Himself to Death; Gun Retrieved Not Harding’s Gun"
I’ve got to go to work soon, and I won’t be back until late afternoon, but I had to report this one.
The temperatures are really going up in San Francisco with this news [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/22/MNAU1KDJ6H.DTL]. And it’s not about the mercury, but blood pressures.
After five days of heat over the fatal shooting of a fleeing suspect in the Bayview, San Francisco police on Thursday let loose a bombshell – the young man not only had a gun, officials said, but appears to have killed himself with it.
The bullet that killed 19-year-old Kenneth Wade Harding on Saturday came from a .380-caliber firearm, authorities announced, and a round of the same caliber was recovered from Harding’s jacket pocket.
San Francisco police officers, by contrast, are armed with .40-caliber ammunition and guns that can’t fire a .380-caliber shot, said John Sanchez, a firearm supervisor with the Police Department crime lab.
Cmdr. Mike Biel, who heads investigations, said detectives now believe Harding fatally wounded himself as he fled from two police officers who were attempting to check whether he had a Muni ticket.
Police are still trying to find that weapon, which they believe was stolen from the crime scene.
“Based on the findings of the medical examiner, at this time we believe he was fatally wounded by a .380-caliber bullet,” Biel said Thursday afternoon at the medical examiner’s office, which is rarely the site of news conferences.
I am shaking my head at this. No one is going to believe this latest news, especially when the small-caliber gun remains missing. Nobody believes that Harding even fired at the cops. It looks to the black residents of Bayview-Hunters’ Point that the SFPD are trying to exonerate the cops. A $1,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the recovery of the weapon as well as Harding’s cell phone. They are also searching for a young guy in a hoodie who was recorded picking up Harding’s gun. But right now, the emperor has no clothes and may well lose his skin. Chief of Police Greg Suhr, who used to run the SFPD Bayview Station was run off the stage at the Hunters’ Point Opera House Wednesday night [http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2011/07/21/outrage-bayview-opera-house-video].
A community meeting July 20 at the Bayview Opera House dissolved into chaotic shouting when Police Chief Greg Suhr attempted to present the San Francisco Police Department‘s version of what transpired July 16 when a 19-year-old African American man was shot nine times by police and killed just blocks from where the meeting was held.
“On Saturday afternoon, two officers at the Bayview station … contacted a fare evader whose name ended up being Kenneth Wade Harding, Jr. of Seattle, Washington,” Suhr began. “After asking him for his identification, he became a little bit anxious, and at one point in time he jumped off the platform and ran across the street, and ran through crowded Mendell Plaza. I cannot tell you how badly that I feel … as captain of this station for two years. I love the Bayview community.”
At that point, angry shouts rose up and Suhr started getting booed, but he continued. “During this foot pursuit, at some point in time, the suspect … fired at the officers, and the officers returned fire. This is the account that we have so far.”
Kilo Perry began shouting back at the chief, saying, “You are not a friend of ours. You are the enemy,” before bystanders tried to calm him down. The SFPD had planned on showing a power point presentation about the incident, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Suhr was drowned out, and the microphone was passed to various community representatives and members of the clergy, who’d helped organize the meeting, as they tried to regain control. Lifelong Bayview resident Charlie Walker asked people to sit down and relax.
That ain’t gonna happen for a while.