Family of San Francisco Man Killed with Stolen Police Gun Files Claim

February 14, 2018

San Francisco Chronicle |

By Evan Sernoffsky and Jenna Lyons

Tears welled in Mayra Perez’s eyes as she recalled the night her son came home from work bleeding to death. He had just been shot twice — once in the chest and once in the right hip — but still had the power to stagger down the street to his home in San Francisco’s Mission District.

“I can’t get that image out of my head,” Perez said Wednesday, with her daughter translating from Spanish. “It’s still really fresh.”

What the mother didn’t know at the time was that her son, 23-year-old Abel Esquivel, was killed by a bullet from a police officer’s gun — but the officer didn’t pull the trigger.

An investigation revealed the .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver used in Esquivel’s Aug. 15 killing had been stolen from an off-duty San Francisco police officer’s vehicle. The officer didn’t know the gun was gone until after the shooting, according to the city’s police union.

Six months after Esquivel’s death, the family gathered at the Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy law firm in Burlingame to announce a legal claim filed Wednesday against the city of San Francisco and its Police Department. The claim is the first step in filing a lawsuit against a public agency.

Esquivel’s death drew attention not only because a stolen police officer’s weapon was used in his killing, but also because one of the three suspects was wearing an ankle monitor ordered by federal immigration officials.

The shooting was the latest incident in which a stolen law enforcement officer’s gun was used in a Bay Area killing.