Man killed by San Francisco police is identified; town hall scheduled

A town hall meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night in San Francisco where police are expected to update the community on the fatal shooting of a man in a Police Department parking lot.

On Sunday, Matthew Hoffman, 32, confronted police outside the department’s Mission station, brandished a pellet gun. He was shot and killed by officers who thought it was a real handgun.

The case now appears to be one of suicide by cop.

Hoffman wanted police to shoot him, according to several suicide notes that police discussed with the media on Monday. Police will give more details on the case to residents at 6 p.m. at Corner Stone Church.


“You did nothing wrong. You ended the life of a man who was too much of a coward to do it himself. I provoked you,” began a note that police said Hoffman wrote to officers on his phone. “I threatened your life as well as the lives of those around me. You were completely within your legal rights to do what you did.”

The letter was released Monday with the permission of Hoffman’s father, San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said in a statement. Hoffman’s identity was released by the San Francisco County medical examiner’s office Monday night.

In the note, Hoffman writes of being “lonely” and “hopeless.” He tells the officers who would ultimately shoot him that they did everything right and followed protocols and that he just wanted to find “peace within myself.”

“God made a mistake with me. I shouldn’t be here,” the note concludes. “Please, take solace in knowing that the situation was out of your control. You had no other choice.”

The shooting Sunday followed a pair of odd encounters Hoffman had with police that began hours earlier at 16th and Mission streets. Hoffman allegedly approached two officers working another incident and asked them about their guns and ammo.

He asked “what kind of guns SFPD carry, what kind of ammunition and if they had been involved in any officer-involved shootings,” the department said in a statement.

The officers ignored Hoffman and moved on, police said.

Later, three sergeants saw Hoffman in a restricted area of the Mission station parking lot and told him to leave, Suhr told reporters Sunday night.

Hoffman initially walked away but then turned and faced the officers, Suhr said.

He began to back away from officers but kept his hands in his sweater pockets before reaching down and pulling up his sweater to show the butt of a gun tucked into his waistband, police said.

“Fearing for their safety, and in defense of their lives, the sergeants drew their service weapons as the suspect pulled his weapon from his waistband,” police said in a statement.

Hoffman was shot three times. Police then checked the weapon and realized it was a pellet gun.

Hoffman was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead just before 8 p.m. The officers involved in the shooting have been put on paid administrative leave, which is routine after such incidents.

The investigation into the incident is being conducted by the San Francisco police’s internal affairs division, along with county prosecutors, which is standard procedure.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna and @MattHjourno.