The city of San Francisco could pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit over a shooting at the hands of a rookie police officer that killed an unarmed man nearly four years ago.
Former officer Chris Samayoa is currently facing manslaughter charges for the Dec. 1, 2017 fatal shooting of Keita O’Neil, which occurred after O’Neil emerged from a stolen California Lottery van and tried to flee from officers on foot.
A year ago, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced manslaughter charges against Samayoa for the fatal officer-involved shooting, making Samayoa one of the first police officers charged with such a crime in the city’s history. The criminal case remains on going.
However, prior to that, back in 2017, Keita O’Neil’s mother Judy O’Neil filed a civil lawsuit against the city over her son’s death, alleging excessive force.
On Tuesday, supervisors will vote on whether to approve settling the lawsuit for the $2.5 million.
According to civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing Judy O’Neil in the civil lawsuit, Judy O’Neil has been devastated by the killing of her son.
“She’s had a difficult time,” Burris said in a statement. “It was traumatizing to her.”
The night of the fatal shooting, Samayoa — who had only been with the police department for four days at the time — shot at O’Neal as Samayoa was in a patrol vehicle and an unarmed O’Neal was running on foot.
O’Neal, who officers had suspected of carjacking the minivan, was taken to a hospital, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
Samayoa has since been let go from the police department,
The city has argued in the case that O’Neil was justified in the shooting because he had reasonable fear that O’Neil, who was unarmed, was reaching for a gun as he ran toward Samayoa. Despite this, in July, a federal judge ruled the civil case could go to trial.
“What you see is a young man running to get away,” Burris said. “He wasn’t running at an officer. He didn’t have a weapon or anything. He was running by, and the officer then shoots him.”
In the criminal case, Samayoa is facing voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by an officer, and negligent discharge of a firearm charges.
Both O’Neil’s family and Burris are in support of the criminal charges.
“It’s important to get a conviction,” Burris said. “If you want a deterrent for officer misconduct, you have to bring charges but also convict.”
Source: NBC Bay Area