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Oakland man killed by S.F. cops had troubled past
Knife-wielder denounced gays, minorities
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, October 10, 2002
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle.


The man shot and killed by San Francisco police in the Castro had been muttering about God's retribution upon gays and minorities, then lunged at officers with a pair of 10-inch butcher knives, investigators said Wednesday.

The man, 28-year-old Jihad Alim Akbar of Oakland, had a long history of confrontations with police, investigators said. Around 10 p.m. Tuesday, he walked into the Bagdad Cafe at 2295 Market St. and took two butcher knives from the kitchen, said Inspector Mike Johnson of the homicide detail.

As 20 people in the cafe and at tables outside watched, Akbar began dancing and waving the knives over his head while denouncing gays and minorities, Johnson said.

"He was heard to mutter about God and gays," Johnson said. "He was upset about something. Who knows?"

Officers Joelle Felix-Zambrana and Michael Celis were summoned.

Celis had only recently returned to duty after suffering injuries in a police car accident June 12 in the Mission District that claimed the life of his partner, Officer Jon Cook.

When the officers confronted him, Akbar had the knives held across his chest and was menacing pedestrians, Johnson said.

Then Akbar raised both knives above his head, with the blades pointing at the officers, police said. The officers told him to put the weapons down several times, but he charged the officers, investigators said.

Celis fired twice, hitting Akbar once in the chest, police said. Akbar died later at San Francisco General Hospital.

The shooting of Akbar has echoes of an earlier confrontation with a troubled man, Idriss Stelley, who was shot to death by police in June 2001 in a movie theater at the Sony Metreon complex.

Stelley, who had a history of mental illness, was shot as he waved a knife he had swinging on a chain. His family has sued the city, saying officers acted without cause in firing 10 rounds, killing the 23-year-old.

Stelley, a computer technology student at Heald College, had been mentally ill since age 5, family members said. The family's suit claims the officers used excessive force and that police training and supervision was inadequate. The suit seeks unspecified compensation and punitive damages.

The Police Department ordered a review of its training in dealing with troubled suspects following the Stelley shooting.

Celis and Felix-Zambrana were both placed on paid leave in connection with the latest incident, standard procedure for officers involved in shootings.

"Why did this guy do this? We don't know," said Inspector Tom Walsh of the homicide detail. Akbar may have been under the care of a doctor, Walsh said, but it is unclear what he may have been suffering from.

Akbar had been arrested four times in recent years. He was placed on probation after being arrested for drugs and resisting arrest in Santa Cruz, authorities said. In Oakland, he received 36 months' probation for battery on a peace officer in 1996.

Akbar was convicted for resisting arrest in Berkeley in 1996.

He was also arrested in San Francisco in May for battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest, as well as trespassing, but that case was dismissed.

E-mail Jaxon Van Derbeken at

©2002 San Francisco Chronicle.   Page A - 19