Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Police shoot dead teenager in gunfight after he failed to pay train fare
Police have shot dead a teenager who fired on police following him after he failed to pay his train fare.
Kenneth Harding Jr appeared to fire first in a brief gunfight in San Francisco.
It seems the 19-year-old feared the police were actually tracking him over the violation of his parole, which restricted him to Washington state.
Police later linked the gun he was carrying to the recent shooting death of a pregnant woman in Seattle.
Police chief Greg Suhr said Harding fired the first shot at two officers on Saturday, who shot back about nine times.
Harding was pronounced dead after the chase in the Bayview-Hunters Point area.
The police chief told reporters the officers were well within their authority when shooting at Harding, who fired while running away.
Police said the 10 shots were exchanged in six seconds.
The officers 'knew that their lives were in jeopardy and at that point they returned fire,' Mr Suhr said.
'The officers are permitted to fire until they think the threat has ended.
A gunshot-detection system used by San Francisco police also concluded that Harding shot first, Cmdr. Mikail Ali said as he played audio for reporters of the 10 shots fired.
Mr Suhr did not release the names of the officers, who have been put on standard paid leave as the incident is under investigation.
In April, Harding was released from a Washington state prison after he served 22 months for attempting to promote prostitution involving a 14-year-old girl in King County, said San Francisco police Lt. Hector Sainez.
Harding was in violation of his parole by being in San Francisco, Mr Suhr said.
Harding was a person of interest in last Wednesday's shooting death of Tanaya Gilbert, 19, in South Seattle, Mr Sainez said.
Family members said Miss Gilbert was several weeks pregnant. Three other people were also injured in that shooting.
However, Seattle police Det. Mark Jamieson said he could not confirm that Harding was linked to those shootings.
Rose Bankston, Miss Gilbert's aunt, told The Seattle Times on Sunday that the victim's mother, Chekel Cox, had been told by Seattle police that ballistics tests would be conducted on a .45-caliber pistol recovered after the San Francisco incident to see if it was used in the killing of Miss Gilbert.
Mr Suhr said yesterday: 'We have a gun. However, I can't confirm that is indeed the same weapon.
Ballistics, DNA and gunshot residue exams will be done to see if that gun recovered by investigators late on Saturday is also the same firearm Harding fired at police, the chief said.
A gun flew out of Harding's hand some 15 feet after he was shot, Mr Sainez said.
Police retrieved a firearm later thanks to cell phone video taken after the shooting was posted online showing a man wearing a gray-striped hooded sweat shirt picking it up and running off with it.
'I applaud the courage of these witnesses to come forward in such a volatile environment,' Mr Suhr said.
'They confirmed that the suspect fired upon the officers before they returned fire.'