San Francisco Chronicle
January 21, 2011
Newly appointed District Attorney George Gascón said Thursday that he has asked his predecessor, state Attorney General Kamala Harris, to decide whether recent police shootings in San Francisco should result in criminal charges against the officers.
Gascón said he and Harris agreed that recusing the district attorney’s office from the decision was not a legal necessity. But there is a perception of a conflict of interest, Gascón said at a session with The Chronicle’s editorial board, because he was police chief at the time of the shootings and “because I’ve made some very clear statements about my thoughts about whether those shootings were lawful or not.”
Gascón said he had identified no other conflicts caused by his unusual job switch. He said he would not recuse himself from the prosecution of Randal Dunklin, 55, who was charged with assault after officers shot him in the groin on Jan. 4.
Video footage of the shooting shows that Dunklin, who has pleaded not guilty, was sitting in a wheelchair when he was shot and had thrown a knife to one side. Prosecutors say he had stabbed an officer in the shoulder, causing a wound that required 21 stitches, and that officers had failed to subdue him with pepper spray.