A new controversy brewing over deadly police shooting half a decade ago.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office is now asking the California Attorney General’s Office to take over a criminal case against a former San Francisco police officer.
In an eight-page letter that NBC Bay Area obtained Friday, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins spells out to California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Jenkins said that she would like Bonta to take over the manslaughter case against former rookie police officer Christopher Samayoa, who shot and killed Keita O’Neil in 2017. Samayoa was the first of three officers to be criminally charged by former DA Chesa Boudin.
In the letter, Jenkins said she feels the case was not filed in good faith and appears to have been politically motivated. “We cannot ethically proceed with this prosecution,” Jenkins said in the letter.
“Therefore, it is our intention to dismiss the charges made in this case. Unless the attorney generals’ office decides to step in and take over the case.”
Boudin released the following statement Friday afternoon:
“Jenkins’ dismissal is offensive and her excuses are dishonest: we charged this case based on the facts–the same facts that led the police department to fire the officer, led the judge to sign the arrest warrant, and led the city to settle a multi-million dollar lawsuit with Keita O’Neil’s family. It’s clear Jenkins has been coordinating with the officer’s defense team to avoid a public hearing on the disturbing facts of the case. She is scapegoating me to try to divert attention from what this decision ultimately reveals about her: Jenkins will not hold everyone equally accountable under the law, she is deeply politically motivated, and she does not care about victims of police violence.”
But Jenkins said there’s a higher burden of proof in a criminal case – than there is for an arrest warrant – or a civil case. She released the following statement:
“The facts and irregularities that have come to light surrounding this case under Boudin’s mismanagement speak for themselves. This case remained uncharged for three years prior to Boudin taking office. It was charged only nine days before the statute of limitations ran in order to help advance his political career after promising to charge police officers during his campaign. Furthermore, after the lead investigator on the case refused to write the arrest warrant, Mr. Boudin personally requested an investigator that was not assigned to this case write the arrest warrant, who was promoted shortly thereafter. I am committed to holding police and law enforcement accountable any time we can prove that they are in violation of the law. No one is above law, and it is my duty to follow the evidence and facts wherever they may lead. Unlike civil court or the standard for an arrest warrant, where there is a lower standard, in order to charge someone with a crime, we must possess proof beyond a reasonable doubt and only proceed with charges in good faith when we believe that proof exists. We should never base charging decisions on political gain or personal ideology. I have and always will uphold my ethical duties as a prosecutor and as the San Francisco District Attorney.”
The case stems from a high speed police chase of a carjacked van in 2017. Body camera video showed Samayoa, a rookie officer, firing his gun at O’Neil through the window of his police cruiser.
This case against former San Francisco Police Officer Christopher Samayoa was first considered by former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who is now a DA in Los Angeles County.
O’Neil’s family told NBC Bay Area that they’ve been pushing the new DA to hand this case, But now say’ they’re not happy with Jenkin’s reasoning for finally asking the attorney general to step in.
“It’s a shameful decision. It’s a travesty of justice. And the interests of justice should compel Rob Bonta to take over the prosecution,” said Brian Ford, attorney for the victim’s aunt.
Michael Rains, an attorney for Samayoa, said he was preparing for a significant hearing on this case, coming up on Mar. 1. He said that he was planning to present evidence showing one of Boudin’s investigators did not include key evidence, when asking a judge for an arrest warrant for Samayoa.
“It was thoroughly dishonest. It was a new low of district attorney misbehavior and unethical behavior committed by Chesa Boudin. And people working under his direction,” he said.
Attorney General Rob Bonta’s Office confirmed Friday that they have the request to take over the case and are considering it.
To read Jenkins’ full letter, click here.
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Source: NBC Bay Area
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