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Mario Woods was shot at least 21 times by San Francisco police, autopsy report says

A knife-wielding San Francisco man was struck by at least 21 bullets and was under the influence of methamphetamine when police sprayed gunfire at him in December, according to an autopsy report released Thursday.

The death of Mario Woods, 26, sparked protests from Bay Area residents after a cellphone video of the shooting went public.

Protesters have contended that race was a factor in the Dec. 2 incident -- Woods was black -- and the U.S. Department of Justice is now conducting a review of the San Francisco Police Department.  

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The cellphone video shows several officers confronting Woods as he stood against a wall. Woods had been reported as the suspect in an assault and was armed with a knife. Woods appeared to walk away when officers opened fire.

Police told coroner’s investigators that Woods repeatedly ignored orders to drop the knife before they fired five less-than-lethal projectiles at him, then fired gunshots, according to the autopsy report.

Bullets from officers’ firearms hit numerous parts of Woods’ 5-foot-9 frame.

Two rounds pierced his skull, one grazed a cheek and multiple other rounds struck his thighs, back, chest, abdomen and hands, according to the autopsy report. The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities reportedly found 27 bullet casings, as well as unspent rounds, scattered on the 6600 block of 3rd Street, according to the report.

Toxicology tests taken during Woods’ autopsy were positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine, tetrahydrocannabinol, the cough suppressant dextromethorphan and the antidepressants amitriptyline and nortriptyline.

Saying they acted like a “firing squad,” John Burris, the lawyer for Woods' family, has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the five officers who shot Woods.

In a Jan. 21 letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch requesting the federal review, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee offered to “throw our doors open, inviting transparency and accountability.” On Jan. 26, the Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution requesting a federal investigation into the Police Department.

The two-year review will be conducted by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which provides grants to improve law enforcement. Its reviews are meant to change practices collaboratively rather than by punitive measures such as a consent decree.

Los Angeles Times staff writers Peter H. King and Doug Smith contributed to this report.

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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