Dictionary.com defines “hero” as: “A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.”
So how did Mario Woods, a known gang member, armed robber and car thief, become an official San Francisco hero?
He did it by
- Slashing one last victim;
- Getting shot by the police; and, above all
- Being black.
At 26, Woods–born on July 22, 1989–had a well-documented history of criminality:
- He was an active member of the notorious Oakdale Mob infesting the predominantly black Bayview-Hunters Point area of San Francisco.
- His gang-related activities included armed robbery; attempted armed robbery; shooting incidents; being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm; car theft; driving a stolen car; and being involved in an automobile injury accident while fleeing from police.
- In 2008, he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon.
- In 2009, he was one of six gang members added to the provisions of a 2007 gang injunction against the Oakdale Mob.
- Under the terms of this injunction, Oakdale Mob members are forbidden to engage in gang-related conduct within a four-block safety zone.
- Among those prohibited activities: Possessing guns or dangerous weapons; possessing illegal drugs; loitering with intent to sell drugs; intimidating witnesses or victims; using threats to recruit or retain gang members; defacing property with graffiti.
- In 2012, he was sentenced to seven years in state prison for armed robbery. (He had already spent almost three years in County Jail.) He was released in 2014.
As for the actions that led to his death–and his near-deification by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors:
On December 2, 2015, San Francisco police officers took a report from a 26-year-old Bayview man who had been slashed in the left shoulder.
He and a female friend had been eating in a car parked in front of an apartment building. They saw a man “walking back and forth on the sidewalk talking,” according to the police report.
The man–wielding a knife–reached into the passenger’s side of the car. The passenger opened the door to push the assailant away.
When he got out of the car, the man slashed him across the left shoulder. Bleeding heavily, the passenger fled to San Francisco General Hospital.
Two officers responded to the crime scene. Aided by a witness to the attack, they spotted the attacker and then lost him. Police radioed in a description, and more officers joined in the search.
Minutes later, two officers spotted Mario Woods, who matched the suspect’s description. He was waiting to board a bus–until he saw the officers get out of their car.
Woods seized a knife from his jeans pocket and said: “You’re not taking me today.”
The two officers drew their pistols and ordered Woods to drop the knife.
“You better squeeze that motherfucker and kill me,” said Woods.
More officers arrived. Some of them carried weapons that fire nonlethal beanbags filled with lead shot.
Still refusing to drop the knife, Woods was hit with a beanbag fired from a 12-gauge weapon.
It had no effect.
12-gauge Beanbag shotgun rounds
Two more rounds struck Woods–but he still refused to drop the knife.
On a video of the incident, a woman can be repeatedly heard yelling to Woods: “Oh, my God, drop it! Drop it!”
A fourth beanbag from a 40mm gun hit Woods. Although he crouched on one knee, he still held the knife. Then he quickly regained his balance and stood up.
Then came a dose of pepper spray–with no apparent effect on him.
A crowd began to gather–and an officer moved toward them to warn: “Back up!”
Suddenly, Woods moved toward the crowd.
The officer stepped into Woods’ path, to keep him from reaching the bystanders.
As Woods kept advancing, the officer fired his pistol. So did four other officers, riddling Woods with bullets.
Two of the officers were black–as was Woods. But in Uber-liberal San Francisco, police are widely regarded with suspicion, if not outright hostility.
And this is especially true when a black suspect is involved.
Predictably, Black Lives Matter called for a protest and vigil on December 3.
And on January 25, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee requested a federal investigation into Woods’ death.
Lee had previously sought to meet with Woods’ mother, on January 15. But when word of the planned meeting leaked out, Gwen Woods canceled it.
San Francisco Supervisor David Campos introduced a resolution to name July 22–Woods’ birthday–as “Mario Woods Day.”
And on January 26, the Board of Supervisors–whom many San Franciscans sarcastically refer to as “Stupidvisors”–unanimously passed Campos’ resolution.
The effort sparked outrage from the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) which represents rank-and-file officers.
In a letter addressed to the Board of Supervisors, POA President Martin Halloran wrote:
“It will be a hurtful day to [the families of SFPD officers killed in the line of duty] if this city’s elected officials decide to recognize and honor an individual that preyed upon our most vulnerable citizens.”
Woods’ mother, Gwen, was elated by the vote: “Sometimes you have to stand up and look life in the eye. Everyone can’t be bullied.”
She could–and should–have been speaking for the victims of her gangbanger son.