“Evidence: Selections from the SFPD Archives”
Artifacts & Photographs from the collection of the San Francisco Police Department.
Exhibition sponsored by the SFPD in conjunction with the Annual conference of California Crime Scene Investigators. San Francisco Hilton, February - March 2011
November 27, 1978 - SF City Hall Assassinations
On November 27, 1978, former city Supervisor Dan White entered City Hall through a 1st floor window. In his possession were a loaded .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver and ten extra rounds of hollow-point ammunition. White entered the mayor’s office and asked to be reinstated as Supervisor, a request that Moscone denied. As Moscone poured two glasses of whiskey, White shot the mayor four times before reloading and walking to Supervisor Harvey Milk’s office at the other side of City Hall. White shot Milk five times at close range. White later surrendered at the police station where he had formerly worked as an officer. During the trial, his legal counsel argued that White had been in a compromised mental state due to depression and excessive junk-food consumption. White was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, which carried a lighter sentence than if he had been convicted of 1st degree murder. His light prison sentence sparked outrage from San Franciscans, and demonstrations turned quickly into what is now referred to as the “White Night” riots. In the aftermath of the trial and subsequent civil unrest, California’s “diminished capacity” laws were eventually eliminated.
July 1, 1993 - 101 California Street Murders
At the time of the murders at 101 California Street, Gian Luigi Ferri was a 55 year old failed real estate speculator and mortgage broker from Los Angeles. A rambling semi-literate four page letter found in his briefcase indicated that Ferri saw himself as a victim of a system out to ruin him. In particular, Ferri blamed the Law Firm of Pettit & Martin for giving him bad legal advice on several real estate deals in 1981, leading to his financial ruin. None of the dead or wounded were on the “hit list” of thirty names Ferri had created and carried with him on the day of the murders. Along with the letter and list of potential targets, Ferri had several weapons on his person as he entered the building and made his way to the 34th floor where the offices of Pettit & Martin were located. After exiting the elevator, Ferri opened fire with a pair of TEC 9 machine-pistols and a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol. After killing eight people and wounding six others on several floors of the building, Ferri ended his 15-minute rampage by killing himself. In the aftermath of the tragedy, California passed many of the strictest gun control laws in the country.
Text © 2011 by Rachel A. Torrey, Assistant Curator