UPDATE, 1:13 PM: Another possibility in this matter is that sometimes officers carry backup weapons on the job, with the approval of their departments. This would be, perhaps, a firearm purchased personally that can be carried on one’s person while on-duty. I asked SFPD about this, and Sgt. Michael Andraychak just informed me that this was NOT the case with these two officers. Andraychak says the officers do not have backup weapons registered to them. Also, no other updates on the investigation that he knew of.


It’s a key piece of evidence in the controversy over San Francisco Police fatally shooting 19-year-old Kenneth Harding: a .380 caliber bullet. The medical examiner’s office says that bullet is the same caliber as a cartridge found in Harding’s jacket pocket, but different from SFPD weapons.

SFPD Chief Greg Suhr leaves chaotic Bayview meeting last week, trailed by media.

Still, in the last few days I’ve gotten a lot of messages (particularly in response to my YouTube video with SFPD Chief Greg Suhr) asking whether a .40 caliber gun could fire a .380 bullet. In other words, could the bullet that lodged in Harding’s head been fired by an SFPD gun?


“It’s very obvious, the difference (between the calibers),” says Scott Jackson, chief handgun instructor at Burlingame-based Bay Area Firearms. Jackson says a .380 bullet would not work in the service weapons used by San Francisco Police.

“Their guns are Sig Sauer .40 calibers,” Jackson says. “Standard-issue, period… If it’s a completely different caliber than the duty-issued caliber of the SFPD, then it’s very plain and simple that it wasn’t fired from their gun.”

A bullet’s caliber is its diameter. That means a .40 caliber bullet measures .40 inches across. Jackson says a .380 caliber bullet is known as a “short 9”, as in 9 mm bullet — same diameter, but the .380 caliber has a shorter cartridge (holding the explosive powder behind the bullet).

Jackson says it’d be easy to tell the difference between various types of bullets, if you’re trained. “We go over all the discernible differences (in our course),” he says. “We have trays full of spent cartridges, and… we show them the lengths of things.”

SFPD initially thought a handgun recovered from a parolee’s house was Harding’s weapon, but the gun is a .45 caliber — also, the wrong size. Investigators are still looking for the actual .380 gun that matches the bullet recovered from Harding’s head.

More on the Harding shooting here.

Bayview Shooting: Explaining the Discrepancy Between SFPD Guns and Bullet Found in Kenneth Harding 25 July,2011Joshua Johnson

  • concerned

    “officers do not have backup weapons registered to them”? hahahahahaaaaa Ive never heard of an officer not carrying a back up weapon, if that dosent insult your intelligence i dont think anything can. Cops are gun fanatics for the most part and usually have collection of firearms and are authorized to carry concealed when off duty. so whats more improbable cop pulls his back up .380 to minimise collateral damage on the crowded street? or guy gets shot then shoots himself and his gun dissapears into thin air with at least 20 witnesses seeing it go down. this kid got shot in the back. pimp, rapper, whatever no one deserves to die like that. So to quote the late Biggie Smalls ” SHOOT FIRST ASK QUESTIONS LAST, THATS HOW MOST OF THESES SO CALLED GANGSTERS/COPS PASS. LOL


Joshua Johnson

Joshua Johnson is the creator and host of Truth Be Told, a special series on race from KQED and PRI. Prior to creating the show, he served as the station’s morning news anchor for five-and-half years.

Prior to joining KQED, Joshua spent six years as an anchor/reporter for WLRN Miami Herald News. He’s a native of South Florida, with degrees from the University of Miami. His reporting and newscasting have won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association and from the National Association of Black Journalists. Joshua is also active in his union, SAG-AFTRA. He lives in San Francisco.

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