View San Francisco Homicides 2011 in a larger map

“Your homicide map has 10 deaths marked,” a reader who stopped me on the street this morning asked “but news reports say we only have 9 homicides this year. What’s up?”

I was wondering this, too, so my neighbor’s question was just what I needed to call SFPD’s media relations department to see who on our list of homicides in 2011 is, for some reason, not classified as a homicide by the SFPD.

And the death that’s not, as of yet, being counted as a homicide: Anthony Jones, the man who was, police say, fatally stabbed at Page and Fillmore on Friday the 21st, after, witnesses say, he began beating a man with a shovel.

According to SFPD spokesperson Officer Albie Esparza, even though the circumstances of a death might lead us all to believe homicide was the case, and even though police are investigating an incident as a homicide, until the Medical Examiner’s office officially declares that the death was, as he put it, “of unnatural causes,” SFPD doesn’t count it as a homicide.

So it’s not that Jones’ stabbing was, some have suggested, self defense that keeps it from being classified thusly? “No, homicide is any unnatural death” said Esparza “even self-defense” if that was what this case was.

Does that mean it’s possible that Jones’ death will be added to the homicide count in the near future? “If the ME determines it to be a homicide, yes” Esparza said “that’s why you can see the homicide number change suddenly.”

So neighbor, if you read this before I see you next, there’s your answer: until the ME says so, no death in SF’s a homicide, and this morning’s Bayview shooting is counted as SF’s ninth, not tenth, homicide of 2011.

But for investigators and, one might argue, members of the community, Jones’ death is being approached as a homicide — it’s just up to the Medical Examiner’s office to confirm or dispute that.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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