SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)— A San Francisco judge today sharply lowered the bail for a mentally ill man shot by police last month from $2 million to $105,000 after reviewing body worn camera footage of the incident.
San Francisco resident Sean Moore, 43, faces charges including criminal threats, threats against an officer, assault and battery on an officer and resisting arrest in connection with the Jan. 6 incident that led to police shooting him at his Oceanview neighborhood home.
Prosecutors argued to keep bail set at $2 million, noting that Moore had been combative and hostile with officers when they tried to investigate a complaint from a neighbor that Moore was banging on a shared wall. The neighbor has a restraining order against Moore.
Moore allegedly kicked and punched the officers at various points during the confrontation, leaving one, Officer Colin Patino, with a broken nose that requires surgery. The officers in turn used pepper spray and batons before Officer Kenneth Cha opened fire.
Assistant District Attorney Maggie Buitrado said Moore, who has had multiple run-ins with neighbors and police over the years, poses a "serious public safety risk" and has a "pattern of conduct" of run-ins with police and alleged threats against neighbors.
"People on the block are scared of Mr. Moore," Buitrado said. "They are scared to walk their dogs down the street."
Deputy Public Defender Brian Pearlman said Moore has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and noted that Cha had spoken to the neighbor with the restraining order against Moore a month prior to the shooting.
Pearlman argued that police could have easily "defused" the situation by backing off when they realized Moore was combative and possibly mentally ill and called in officers trained in crisis intervention techniques, but instead escalated and initiated aggression.
He also suggested there was an element of racial bias in their response, noting that officers had exaggerated Moore's size in calls to dispatch, describing him as 6 feet 5 inches and 275 when they had previous information that he was several inches smaller than that.
"If this was a 70-year-old white woman yelling the same thing, this would not have ended in a shooting," Pearlman said.
In lowering bail, Judge Christopher Hite said he understood Cha and Patino were in a difficult situation in dealing with Moore, who was combative and hostile and standing at the top of a narrow staircase. He noted at several points while discussing the video that Moore's actions might have seemed more threatening or hard to follow for the officers in the moment, even where they seemed clear in the video.
However he also said that the video clearly showed Moore did not have a weapon, contrary to what was stated in a police report, and agreed that officers had exaggerated Moore's size in a call to dispatch.
"There was a failure to link mental health aspects to the interaction which may have led to the results that occurred," Hite said.
Family members outside court today said they are not sure they will bring Moore home yet, given that he is still recovering from the shooting and requires medical care. However, they are working to arrange mental health care for him when he gets out.
His brother, Kenneth Blackmon, said the family has tried repeatedly in the past to get help but was told there was little they could do since Moore is an adult.
Moore is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 7 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.