The family of a Redwood City man who was fatally shot by police last year is calling for the City Council to enforce changes at the Redwood City Police Department.
The Hart family and their supporters are planning to advocate at Monday’s City Council meeting at 7 p.m. for expanded crisis intervention training, M40 bean bag guns in every patrol car along with Tasers and body cameras for all patrol officers.
In March, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, which investigated the officer-involved shooting that killed 33-year-old Kyle Hart, decided not to pursue criminal charges against the officers involved, saying its investigation revealed that the use of lethal force was justifiable under the law.
The fatal shooting occurred just before 9 a.m. on Dec. 30. Hart, a teacher and father of two young children, had been attempted to commit suicide by cutting himself with a large kitchen knife when his wife called police to their Lincoln Avenue home, according to a report by investigators. Two arriving officers, Roman Gomez and Leila Velez, encountered his wife covered in blood in the front yard. She pointed them in the direction of her husband toward the backyard. Velez pulled out a Taser gun, and Gomez pulled out a firearm, the DA’s report states. During their encounter with Hart, Hart didn’t respond to officer calls to put his knife down, and then reportedly charged at the officers with the knife raised. Velez fired the Taser, but it didn’t work, and then Gomez fired his gun five times, striking Hart three times.
The officer believed there was no time to exchange words or back away from Hart, according to the DA’s report.
The Hart family expressed dissatisfaction with the DA’s finding, calling into question whether the officers managed the scene optimally, and whether alternative deescalation options and equipment could have been used.
“As a family, we are civic-minded and have dedicated our lives to public service, which is why we have taken the approach to partner with Redwood City to evaluate opportunities for growth together,” the Hart family states.