SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Today marks the one-year anniversary of the police shooting death of Mario Woods, a stabbing suspect- shot more than 20 times in the Bayview District of San Francisco..
His killing was captured on cell phone video, sparking protests of excessive police force, calls for change and a Justice Department review.
At 3:30 this afternoon, members of the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition marched from MLK Park to the spot where Woods was gunned down on 3rd Street and Paul Avenue near a bus stop.
Among them was Mario's mother, Gwendolyn Woods. KTVU spoke with her yesterday, on the eve of the anniversary of his death.
"The thing that breaks me down is when I see him right here and they're all around him," she said, pointing to a building wall where, as seen in cell phone video, Mario was leaning when police surrounded him with guns drawn.
There is now a memorial nearby. Three large planter boxes of flowers and shrubs adorn the sidewalk. Woods' sister Alison affixed tape to a picture from a collage of laminated photos of Mario that had recently half-fallen from the metal fence.
Woods said she can't watch the cell phone video which captured her son falling under a barrage of bullets.
Police say Mario had stabbed a stranger earlier that day and was still armed with a knife when they caught up with him at 3rd and Paul.
Officers say he failed to comply with orders to drop his weapon and when he began to move toward an officer in the half circle, officers shot him more than 20 times.
Woods said the video haunts her. It recently popped up on her TV screen and she couldn't find the remote fast enough to change the channel.
"I remember cowering in the corner like that's my kid..." she cried. "That's.... my kid."
Woods says Mario and his older brothers, Monroe and Michael, grew up mainly in Houston, Texas, and moved back to her family home in the Bayview neighborhood 16 years ago.
Mario served nine years in prison at the age of 17 after committing an armed robbery.
Woods says he had only been out of prison for about a year when was killed. Woods has always said that she realizes that her son wasn't perfect but that he deserved to have his day in court.
His killing sparked protests about the need for police reform, particularly in how officers interact with communities of color.
No charges have been filed against the officers as of yet, something Woods says she has come to accept.
"I'll be another black or brown mother that has to say... I have to take this loss," she said through tears. "I have to digest it somehow. I have to be ok with not being OK."
Woods now lives in Sacramento, working a temp job.
She said she understands depression and there are days when she doesn't feel like showering or getting out of bed. "You can really try and bargain with God. In the end, he wins, Mario's not coming back," she said, her voice breaking. "And so those days are hard."
But Woods looks on the positive side. She believes Mario's death did have an impact, opening up a dialogue that paved the way for needed reforms within SFPD when it comes use of force policies.
These days she says she looks for signs from Mario. On Thanksgiving night, she received one, in the form in a ladybug on her nightstand.
"There were no windows open or anything and ladybug flies in and rattles around the lamp!" she exclaimed. She explains that Mario used to laugh that the only bug his mom liked was a ladybug.
"I think it was my Mar," she laughs, "yeah, he was giving me a sign. I have to believe that."