An autopsy report released today shows that Mario Woods suffered 21 gunshot wounds, many of them to the back of his body, and that he had methamphetamines and other drugs in his system when he was shot by five San Francisco police officers in the Bayview District on Dec. 2.
The report is likely to add fuel to protests over Woods’ shooting, which was captured on bystander videos that were widely circulated on social media. The shooting has prompted calls from activists for Police Chief Greg Suhr’s resignation and an apology from the Board of Supervisors, as well as discussions of changes to police use of force policies and a federal review of department practices.
The report from the San Francisco medical examiner’s office found 20 penetrating gunshot wounds and one graze wound from a bullet.
A number of the wounds to his arms, back, head, abdomen, thighs and buttons were located on the back side of Woods’ body, and the report described 17 of them as having a “back to front” trajectory.
It is unclear how many bullets actually struck Woods, however. The report indicates that five projectiles, two copper jackets and numerous fragments were recovered during the autopsy, and that 27 bullet casings were found at the scene.
The report also shows that Woods had drugs in his system including methamphetamine and amphetamines, marijuana, anti-depressants, cough syrup, nicotine and caffeine.
Woods’ was shot by five police officers near a T-Third San Francisco Municipal Railway stop on Third Street near Le Conte Avenue.
Police have said they were responding to a stabbing that was reported in the area at 3:49 p.m., and found Woods holding a knife and with blood on his clothes.
Bystander videos that circulated on social media after the shooting show Woods against a building, surrounded on two sides by offers with their guns drawn. He can be seen motioning toward the officers, staggering, and then trying to walk away along a wall as one of the officers moved into his path.
A moment later, the officers opened fire and Woods fell to the ground. He was declared dead at the scene.
Police have said they tried using less-lethal “bean bag” rounds on Woods before shooting him. The autopsy report today showed five injuries to his chest, forearm, hip, thigh and calf consistent with such projectiles.
Attorney John Burris, who is representing Woods’ mother, Gwen Woods, today called the number of shots, especially those to the back, “shocking,” and said the family was “devastated” to see it.
“It’s certainly consistent with officers unloading a weapon against a person who was not threatening them,” Burris said.
Woods’ family has said that he suffered from mental health issues, and Burris said the officers also failed to assess Woods’ mental state and recognize that he was impaired.
“Because he had meth in his body, that’s not a death warrant,” Burris said. “Even not following commands by the police doesn’t justify using deadly force in this case.”
The family is pursuing a civil suit, and Burris has asked for a federal criminal investigation into the shooting. The U.S. Justice Department has announced a review of overall department policies and practices but not an investigation into Woods’ shooting.
Police today released a statement acknowledging that the “tragic incident” had shaken the trust of many residents in the department.
“It is difficult for anyone to watch videos of the shooting,” police said. “Similarly it is equally as difficult to read the medical examiner’s report.”
Police noted that the report appeared to corroborate the facts gathered by investigators after the shooting.
Sara Gaiser, Bay City News