About 20 people gathered outside San Francisco City Hall Thursday in support of a man who said he was the target of harassment by police because of his criticism of a shooting that involved officers in the city’s Bayview District earlier this month.
Debray Carpenter, 22, said he was arrested Saturday for making disparaging comments about police to a media outlet a day earlier.
Carpenter was arrested on suspicion of making threats on an executive officer and resisting arrest, police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.
The district attorney’s office declined to file charges against him and he was released early Wednesday.
Carpenter said, “Police have attacked me and continue to attack me because I speak up” about the death of 19-year-old Seattle resident Kenneth Harding Jr. in the Bayview on July 16.
Harding died following a shootout with police officers who were conducting San Francisco Municipal Railway fare enforcement near Third Street and Palou Avenue earlier that day.
Police said officers shot at Harding after he fired at them, and later said an autopsy showed that the bullet that killed him did not come from a police gun, and that he appeared to have shot himself.
Thursday police also announced that they had found Harding’s gun, which amateur video footage showed was apparently picked up by someone at the scene who walked away with it before officers could establish the crime scene.
Carpenter, a lifetime Bayview resident who also goes by the nickname “Fly Benzo,” questioned the police version of the events in Harding’s case, saying “police make stuff up every day.”
He also denied the police version of his own arrest on Saturday.
Dangerfield said Carpenter was arrested not because of anything that occurred on Saturday, but rather for an incident on July 19 at Third Street and Oakdale Avenue, where the shooting involving Harding occurred.
He allegedly threatened the officer by saying “You white pig b—-, I’m going to put one in you,” and after the officer asked him if he was making threats, he said “You bleed like I do, I’m going to put one in you and show you,” Dangerfield said.
Dangerfield said Carpenter “was too hostile at that point” so officers decided to wait until days later to arrest him.
Carpenter said, “I never threatened the cops, I never said anything like that,” and said he did not resist arrest either.
Erica Terry Derryck, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said the decision was made to not file charges against Carpenter because “we were unable to prove elements of the offense.”
Carpenter said his arrest was an example of how youth in the Bayview are treated like criminals, and said the Muni fare enforcement operations that led to Harding’s death are another example.
“On the T trains, people are criminalized for not having enough money,” he said. “(The Bayview) is the only community where police hop on the train and chase people down.”
Several other people spoke at Thursday’s event outside City Hall, including Carpenter’s father Claude, who said city and police officials have to do a better job of working with the people of the Bayview if they want the neighborhood to thrive.
“You can’t build up the community without building up the people of the community,” Claude said.
Carpenter and the other speakers at the event called for the city to make several changes to its policies, including stopping fare inspection by police officers, improving schools in the neighborhood, and setting up a citizen review board with the power to indict officers for misconduct.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News