More than two years after the fatal shooting of Amilcar Perez-Lopez by SFPD, the District Attorney’s Office decided there will be no criminal charges filed against the two involved officers.
“Based on the facts, circumstances and applicable law in this matter, there is insufficient evidence to file any criminal charges against Officer [Eric] Reboli or Officer [Craig] Tiffe,” reads the 25-page District Attorney letter released Wednesday.
“My job requires me to look at the evidence and the law and to make a decision based on that,” said District Attorney George Gascon.
On Feb. 26, 2015, officers Reboli and Tiffe responded to a call about a man armed with a knife (Perez-Lopez) chasing another man, shown by Gascon in a Power Point presentation to be a 13-inch knife with an eight-inch blade.
Even though the two plainclothes officers claimed to have identified themselves as police, concerns arose that Perez-Lopez, a monolingual Spanish speaker from Guatemala, did not understand them due to a language barrier.
On the night of the shooting, then SFPD chief Greg Suhr stated that Perez-Lopez lunged at officers with the knife raised overhead, prompting Reboli and Tiffe to open fire.
However, there were inconsistencies between eyewitness accounts and SFPD’s official version of the events from the start. Most notably, SFPD’s claims that Perez-Lopez lunged at officers with the knife seemed inconsistent with the results of an independent autopsy, which showed four entry wounds in Perez-Lopez’s back.
Arnoldo Casillas, the attorney representing the Perez-Lopez family, argued that the shots to the back indicate that not only was Perez-Lopez running away from the officers, but he also had his arm at his side at the time of the shooting.
“He was shot in the back four times. If I’m charging you, you can’t shoot me in the back,” said Casillas in April of 2015, shortly after the independent autopsy report was made public. “It’s physically impossible to get these trajectories through his body unless he’s running away.”
El Tecolote will be following developments on this story. An extended account of the District Attorney’s statement will be available in El Tecolote’s print edition on April 20th.
Mabel Jiménez and Alexis Terrazas contributed to this story.
Story by: Cassie Ordonio