A former San Francisco rookie police officer was charged with manslaughter on Monday, nearly three years after he shot dead an unarmed motor vehicle suspect, authorities said.
Former officer Christopher Samayoa, who held field training on the fourth day after graduating from the law enforcement academy, killed Keita O’Neil on December 1, 2017, according to court documents (42).
During the indictment, Chesa Boudin, a San Francisco district attorney, said the case is believed to be the first homicide prosecution against a law enforcement officer in San Francisco history.
Mr Boudin, a Democrat elected last year, said in an interview on Monday that the allegations were “a small but significant step towards implementing a central platform for my campaign”. He said his office had recently completed a review of the evidence.
“I hope people are saying that no one is above the law, that we enforce the law equally in San Francisco, regardless of the color of your skin, the money in your bank account, or whether you’re wearing a uniform. to work, ”said Mr. Boudin.
In a press release on Monday, Mr Boudin said: “Police officers have a duty to abide by the law when they use force – even if they respond to serious crimes. As a district attorney, I will continue to hold accountable to officials who commit unlawful violence and violate the trust of public places against them. “
The district attorney’s office intercepted Mr. Samayoa’s arrest warrant this weekend. Mr. Boudin said Mr Samayoa is expected to turn around later this week.
Mr. Samayoa is charged with both voluntary and arbitrary homicide, an attack on a semi-automatic firearm, an attack by a police officer, and the release of a firearm from gross negligence, Mr. Boudin said.
The charges came when a large number of murders of blacks, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, protested police brutality and called for the prosecution of civilian officers.
Through the prosecution, April Green, Mr. O’Neil’s aunt, said he was “pleased to hear this news” about the allegations, “and hopes it will bring some truth to our family.”
John Burris, a federal civil lawyer representing Mr. O’Neil’s mother, said the family was “pleased” with the indictment.
“It’s important for the community to know that there is a district law firm that will respond to and investigate police shots,” Mr Burris said, adding that “Mr. Boudin could be a leader, a standard in police accountability, but he reassured the community as well. that police shootings are not allowed to go unreasonably or with impunity. ”
Mr. Samayoa’s attorney, Michael K. Hinckley, did not respond immediately to emails or phone calls on Monday.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association did not answer phone calls for comments on Monday, but its president, Tony Montoya, said in a statement to the Associated Press that the police union was “committed to Christopher and his family receiving support during this difficult time and that receive their proper procedural rights and receive strong defense against these allegations. “
Earlier, the union said Mr. Samayoa was doing exactly what he had been trained to do when the shooting took place, The San Francisco Chronicle wrote.
The murder occurred on December 1, 2017, after Mr. Samayoa and Field Training Officer Edric Talusan responded to Mr. O’Neil’s alleged hijacking of a vehicle, according to the district prosecutor’s office.
Mr. O’Neilt, who was black, was suspected of stealing a California State Lottery minibus. Mr. Samayoa and Officer Talusan chased him for a few blocks in the Bayview area when the van reached a dead end, at which point Mr. O’Neil jumped out and started running, Mr. Boudin said in a press release.
Other patrol cars closed and blocked the road to O’Neil Road, at which point he ran past the police car where Mr. Samayoa was sitting in the passenger seat. The rookie officer shot Mr. O’Neil as he ran and killed him, according to the announcement.
The shot was recorded on Mr. Samayoa’s body camera.
In March 2018, Mr. Samayoa was fired from the Police Headquarters. The department did not respond immediately to comments requesting comments on Monday.
In response to why he did not accuse Mr. Samayoa of second-degree murder, Mr Boudin said in an interview that he was committed to eliminating “over-criticized transactions by district prosecutors across the country on over-billing cases”. He added that “this commitment applies to police defendants just as much as it does to anyone else.”