Rookie SFPD cop shot at moving vehicle, didn't have body cam turned on

Shots fired by a San Francisco police officer earlier this month are raising questions about training and possible violations of police policy.

Monday's town hall meeting included a presentation by SFPD Chief William Scott on the officer-involved shooting. Chief Scott shared both facts and video from the incident 10 days ago when officers confronted a car burglar. 

The incident ended in an arrest and no one was injured after a chaotic nearly two-mile chase. Midway through, shots were fired and a rookie officer may have broken some department rules.

Police body-cam footage shows a car burglary suspect finally surrendering at Civic Center Plaza. After the suspect allegedly hit the officer's car with his own. The incident began near Steiner and Geary. 

The arrest of 21-year-old Hershell Hale of Antioch was reviewed at the town hall. 

"It's always a concern when officers are assaulted. That's always a concern," said Chief Scott as he showed photos of a damaged police SUV, allegedly hit by Hale's fleeing car about mid-way through the encounter. 

"What we've been faced with is an epidemic of car boostings, car burglaries, cars that have been broken into," said Capt. Joe Engler from SFPD's Northern Station. 

Officers on patrol heard an alarm blaring May 11, just before 1 a.m. They saw broken glass and two men slipping away. One was caught on the spot, but Hale took off and an officer chased him, according to police. 

Hale then climbed into a Hyundai, police said and drove toward an arriving patrol car and toward an officer on the street. The video shows the officer running to get out of the way. 

At this point, at the second location, the original foot chase, rookie officer, with less than a year on the force, fires two shots; one hitting Hale's bumper as he takes off driving towards Civic Center. 

"This is outside the policy, what occurred here," said Board of Supervisors President London Breed, whose district is included in this case. She noted that officers aren't allowed to fire into moving vehicles. 

"Get out of the car! Get out of the car!" directions from police can be heard on the video. The video is from the officer's body camera who dodged being run over by a car. He orders Hale to stop, but he does not fire his weapon. 

Petra DeJesus, a San Francisco Police commissioner sitting in on the meeting, said every situation is different. 

"All use of force is a case-by-case basis, so even though there's a policy, th policy allows for exceptional circumstances, so I think there is movement in this policy," DeJesus said. 

The rookie officer, who fired his weapon, did not have his body-worn camera turned on during this incident; not during the chase nor the shooting, which is also a violation of department policy. 

"I'm not going to sit here and make excuses," said Chief Scott. "We have to do better." 

But the cameras have been adopted into policy for more than a year now. 

The rookie officer on paid leave during the investigation was identified by the department as William Reininger. 

The suspect faces several charges, including assault with a deadly weapon--his car. 

He was out on bail for burglary and on probation for burglary when this all happened.