SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said Wednesday that his department will investigate an incident seen on viral video of a business owner hosing down a homeless Black woman.
Scott tweeted that investigators are going to collect evidence, interview witnesses, and present their findings to the district attorney for possible prosecution.
The police chief urged those outraged by the behavior displayed in the video to not act on those emotions.
"I understand that there is frustration out there and there is an impulse to act. Right now, what we need is civility. If you are frustrated with a situation, please do not act on your anger," Scott tweeted.
The man at the center of the video and investigation, art gallery owner Collier Gwin, told KTVU he was remorseful for his behavior.
Gwin said he was cleaning the street Monday morning with a hose and repeatedly asked the woman to move. Gwin said he became frustrated when she refused. That's when, by his own account, he "snapped."
He was filmed spraying water on the woman as she sat on the sidewalk.
After blasting the woman with the water hose, he tells the woman to "move, move, move."
He claims the video only shows part of what happened.
"[It shows] how I snapped. And for that, I apologize for tremendously. That's not myself," said Gwin.
Gwin said the homeless woman, who KTVU was unable to contact, showed up in the area about two weeks ago. He said he allowed her to sleep outside on his doorway for four days.
Gwin said he and other area business owners tried to call police multiple times over her behavior. He said they tried to get her help but that she refused to leave, and she refused services.
Asked if he regretted that his actions were caught on video, or if he thought what he did was wrong, Gwin said, "I'm totally sorry that I reacted, where I tried to move her and did so in a way that was not the right way."
San Francisco District Supervisor Aaron Peskin represents the district where the incident transpired, on Montgomery Street in the Jackson Square area.
"Anybody treating another human being on our streets that way is gut-wrenching and horrible, Peskin said.
He said the homeless woman is known to both neighbors and authorities in the area and in nearby North Beach, but that does not excuse Gwin's actions.
"I've been in touch with the police. As far as I'm concerned, this is assault," Peskin said.
The front door of Gwin's business was broken. He said it happened Tuesday afternoon over backlash for what he did. He said three men he doesn't know came to confront him.
"They smashed the window. I'm not surprised. I understand people getting outraged when they see things like that," said Gwin.
Peskin said police are investigating this matter. He said Gwin should face consequences for his actions.
On the day of the incident, a crisis response team that was on routine patrol was able to engage with the woman, which resulted in her accepting city services.
Help for behavioral health crises: https://sf.gov/street-crisis-response-team.