Acting SFPD chief says standoff resolution shows promised reform in action

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A standoff in San Francisco that lasted nearly four hours came to an end around 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday. SFPD said the suspect was taken into custody and was being given medical treatment and that his gun was recovered. 

San Francisco's acting police chief said the peaceful resolution of an armed standoff shows promised reforms in action. 

"It could have been eight hours, twelve hours, the time is irrelevant," Chief Toney Chaplin told KTVU, outside Wednesday night's Police Commission meeting.

"We'll take as long as it takes to make sure the sanctity of life is observed."

Police said the suspect was in an altered mental state as the situation unfolded before a large crowd of onlookers in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood.

The incident was reported at 2:12 p.m. in the area of Jones and McAllister streets just off of Market Street, police spokeswoman Officer Giselle Talkoff said.

Police advised people to avoid the area while the department's hostage/crisis negotiation team responded, Talkoff said shortly before 2:45 p.m.

Footage from Sky Fox showed the man shirtless and face down on the ground with more than a dozen officers at the scene. 

The suspect, who had been struck repeatedly with police projectiles, was loaded into an ambulance, incapacitated but conscious.

"The projectiles were only fired after he cocked his gun, and tried to leave the scene, he tried to crawl under a fence, so trying to keep him contained and the public safe, that's why we fired those," explained the chief. 

SFPD Officer Grace Gatpandan addressed media on the situation before 4 p.m. saying officers ordered him to stop and show his hands but he didn't comply, prompting an officer to fire a beanbag round at him. 

"Our goal is not to use any force. Officers will stay on the scene as long as possible to take this person into custody," Gatpandan said. 

"He made suicidal statements, and our negotiator kept moving him past that and he didn't take his own life, even though he had the means," observed Chief Chaplin, "and I commend our hostage and crisis teams for their patience."   

Relatives were also called to the scene to help police communicate with the man. Police were originally called to the intersection because he had been acting strangely. 

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee issued the following statement regarding the situation: 

“I want to thank the officers of the San Francisco Police Department for the peaceful resolution to the standoff this afternoon with an armed man.

Using de-escalation tactics, patience and restraint, San Francisco police officers put the sanctity of life at the center of this confrontation and resolved the situation safely.

I want to praise Acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin for his leadership during the tense negotiations with this armed man. In direct communication with me all afternoon, he continually showed the judgment and prudence that resulted in a non-violent outcome.

The handling of the situation today is a reflection of the emphasis that we put on de-escalation training in recent months. We are making critical investments to rebuild trust with our communities and are changing how our police officers handle conflicts on our City streets.”

San Francisco has been roiled in recent months by several fatal officer involved shootings, which resulted in the resignation of former Chief Greg Suhr.

Chaplin said the incident should send a message to San Franciscans, that de-escalation tactics are preferred over lethal force whenever possible.

"The fact that this was a firearm, officers showed extreme patience, and kudos to them," Chaplin told KTVU.

"We are going to do everything possible to make sure everyone in these situations leaves alive, and able to see tomorrow."