Statement of San Francisco Chief of Police William Scott on the grand jury indictment of S.F. Police Officer Christopher Flores
Today I was informed of a felony indictment by a grand jury against Officer Christopher Flores regarding his involvement in an officer-involved shooting that occurred on December 7, 2019. Given the facts as we know them, I am surprised and quite frankly disappointed by this felony indictment against one of our officers.
Our officers responded to a 911 call on a “hot prowl burglary,” a potentially dangerous crime in which an offender breaks into a home while its occupants are inside. In this case, the 911 call came from the occupant — a young mother at home with her infant child.
A short time later, our officers encountered an individual matching the suspect’s description. Audio and video evidence shows that the suspect initiated a violent, unprovoked attack on the officers — repeatedly striking Officer Flores in the head with a thick glass bottle, which resulted in serious injuries. Video evidence also shows that the subject — Mr. Jamaica Hampton — pursued Officer Flores as Flores was retreating. Both officers subsequently discharged their firearms, causing life-threatening injuries to Mr. Hampton.
The San Francisco Police Department’s Use of Force policy states that “an immediate threat is considered to exist if a suspect has demonstrated actions that would lead one to reasonably believe that the suspect will continue to pose a threat if not apprehended without delay. A person is an immediate threat if the officer reasonably believes the person has the present intent, means, opportunity, and ability to complete the threat regardless of whether the threatened action has been initiated.”
Moreover, the San Francisco Police Department’s Use of Force policy — consistent with the legal standard and prevailing case law based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386 (1989) — states: “The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than 20/20 hindsight, and without regard to the officer’s underlying intent or motivation.”
Officer Flores and Mr. Hampton — whom I understand was also indicted on the matter — are both entitled to all rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including the right to trial by a jury of their peers. In accordance with the Constitution, both men are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
While I find today’s indictment surprising and troubling based on the circumstances, I have faith in our judicial system and confidence that justice will ultimately be done in this case.
The administrative investigations on this case by the San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Police Accountability are pending adjudication.
The San Francisco Police Department has been as transparent as the law allows regarding the facts of this investigation. Audio and video evidence from the incident was presented in a public town hall on December 17, 2019, and I would encourage members of the public who are interested in this matter to review the evidence online at https://www.sanfranciscopolice.org/news/notes-used-presentation-december-17-2019- town-hall-address.