Trending Topics

Video shows suspect attack SF cops before OIS

Armed with a glass bottle, Jamaica Hampton attacked two cops before getting shot

Matthias Gafni
San Francisco Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO — Armed with a glass bottle, Jamaica Hampton zigzags along a Mission District street on the morning of Dec. 7, dodging two San Francisco police officers he had attacked just moments before. Suddenly, he darts between two cars and appears to run toward one of the officers, who shoots him three times, critically injuring him.

That was the scene that played out on video from police body cameras and surveillance footage, released Tuesday night at a raucous town hall meeting in the Mission.

After about 30 seconds of running back and forth near the intersection of 23rd and Mission streets with two officers chasing him with guns drawn, Hampton, 26, came within feet of Officer Sterling Hayes, who fired six rounds, the videos showed. An injured Hampton attempted to rise from the ground and Officer Christopher Flores fired one shot.

It’s unclear whether Flores’ shot hit Hampton.

The videos played before a standing-room-only crowd at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, two blocks from the shooting.

Hampton remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital. On Monday, the San Francisco district attorney’s office charged him with assault with a deadly weapon, assault upon a police officer, threats to an officer and vandalism for an unrelated incident.

As the videos played before the public on a large screen, irate audience members yelled out, “Cowards!” and “Was that justified?” and “This is murder!”

In front of the auditorium stage, police displayed enlarged photos of the Grey Goose vodka bottle Hampton used to hit Flores in the face and head. A second poster board of photos showed Flores’ bloodied face and back of his neck.

Chief Bill Scott said the town hall was held for transparency, but he added that it was too soon to reach a judgment about the actions of the officers. He explained to the audience how a bottle, by law, can be considered a deadly weapon.

Cmdr. Robert O’Sullivan read a statement about what prompted the officers to fire their handguns.

“Mr. Hampton was still holding the glass bottle and closed the distance between himself and the passenger officer. The passenger officer discharged his issued duty weapon,” O’Sullivan said. “After being shot, Mr. Hampton went down to the ground, rose to his knees and then began to move in the direction of the injured driver officer. The injured driver officer discharged his duty weapon.”

After Hayes’ body camera video played, the atmosphere at the meeting became volatile. At one point, a man describing himself as Hampton’s brother asked audience members to stop yelling.

Eve Greenberg, who introduced herself as a friend of Hampton, told the crowd that they met while he worked at a farmers’ market. She said he worked in Oakland as a waiter.

“He was afraid of being a statistic and he knew he could look like a threat,” she said, saying he was physically fit and muscular. “He really wanted to be a part in some way with foster youth because that was his background and he wanted to see children thrive.”

Greenberg said she was “disgusted” watching the shooting and her friend trying to run away from police, “seeing my friend look like a scared animal, not knowing where to move.”

Other audience members said the police failed to create time and distance in their pursuit of Hampton. They repeatedly questioned how lethal force could be used when Hampton carried only a glass bottle.

Police also released the 911 call precipitating the shooting. A distraught woman described how a man had broken into her home that morning and that the intruder had asked her twice if there was a man in the house before leaving.

As the two officers responded, a second 911 call came in from another woman who said she saw a man trying to break into cars, including two parked police cars. The caller said the man may have an iron bar broken off a fence.

A business surveillance video shows Hampton crossing the street right in front of Officers Hayes and Flores. The officers had said that Hampton matched the description they got from the 911 calls, so they stopped the car to question him.

As Hayes opens his passenger door, Hampton attacks him. Hayes fends him off by kicking. Officer Flores, who was driving, runs around to help and Hampton strikes him with the bottle, knocking off his body camera, police said.

At that point, both officers pursue Hampton yelling, “Get on the ground!” Hayes attempts to pepper spray Hampton, but he later said in the video he accidentally hit himself with it. Several audience members said he likely impaired himself with the spray before he fired the six shots.

After the shooting, the body camera captured a frantic Hayes yelling, “Goddammit man, f—! I didn’t want to do this! I didn’t want to f—ing do this!” Another officer tries to calm him down. Later in the footage, Flores is seen with a bloody nose.

It was the first San Francisco police shooting since June 2018.

©2019 the San Francisco Chronicle