San Francisco, CA – A former San Francisco police officer who fatally shot a carjacker during his fourth day on the job three years ago has been charged with manslaughter and firearm offenses in connection with the suspect’s death.
During a press conference on Monday, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, the son of two convicted cop-killers, touted that the case against now-former San Francisco Police Department (FPD) Officer Christopher Samayoa is believed to be the first homicide prosecution against a law enforcement officer in the city’s history, The New York Times reported.
“For too long, we have seen the failures of our legal system to hold police accountable for the violence committed against the members of the public they are entrusted to keep safe,” Boudin said, according to KGO.
“In SF there has been long history of officer-involved shootings leading to no accountability whatsoever, further cementing the idea that police are above the law,” he continued. “That stops today.”
Samayoa, who was in his fourth day of field training after graduating from the police academy at the time of the Dec. 1, 2017 shooting, was fired by the department in March of 2018, The New York Times reported.
He now faces charges of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, discharging a firearm with gross negligence, assault by a police officer, involuntary manslaughter, and voluntary manslaughter.
Boudin said he might elevate the charge to murder at some point in the future, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
“I ran on a platform that included a commitment to not overcharge cases,” he said. “That commitment applies equally. It means if it’s a close call, we err on the side of charging the case in a conservative way in the way that we know we can prove.”
Boudin said the charges against Samayoa represent “a small but significant step toward fulfilling a central platform of my campaign,” The New York Times reported.
“I hope the message people take is that no one is above the law, that we enforce the law equally in San Francisco without regard to the color of your skin, how much money you have in your bank account or to whether you wear a uniform to work,” he declared.
The officer-involved shooting occurred on Dec. 1, 2017, after 42-year-old Keita O’Neil allegedly assaulted a female California State Lottery worker and carjacked her state-owned minivan in the Bayview District, according to KGO.
Officer Samayoa and SFPD Field Training Officer Edric Talusan responded to the area and ended up in a pursuit with the stolen van, The New York Times reported.
Several blocks later, O’Neil hit a dead-end and bailed out of the stolen vehicle, according to police.
He took off running on foot towards the officers’ patrol car as additional officers closed in and attempted to block his exit, The New York Times reported.
Bodycam footage showed Officer Samayoa firing a single round at O’Neil from the passenger seat as the suspect ran by him.
O’Neil was rushed to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
“Police officers are obligated to follow the law when using force — even when responding to serious crimes,” Boudin said on Monday, according to The New York Times. “As district attorney, I will continue to hold accountable officers who inflict unlawful violence and breach the trust the public places in them.”
Samayoa is expected to turn himself in to police later this week, the district attorney said.
His attorney, Michael Hinckley, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, The New York Times reported.
San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya said that the union is standing behind Samayoa as the case against him unfolds, KGO reported.
“The criminal justice system will allow for the facts surrounding this case to be disclosed,” Montoya said. “We are committed to ensuring that Christopher and his family are supported during this difficult time and that he is accorded his due process rights and provided with a vigorous defense against these charges.”
O’Neil’s family filed an excessive force lawsuit against the City of San Francisco, San Francisco County, Officer Talusan, and Samayoa in the wake of the shooting, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
That case is still pending.
The family’s attorney, John Burris, said that the shooting was “a flagrant use of violence with no justification,” according to the San Francisco Examiner.
Lateef Gray, the head of Boudin’s Independent Investigations Bureau, formerly worked for Burris, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
Under Boudin, he is tasked with looking into officer-involved shootings.
Boudin is the son of Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, two members of The Weather Underground who were convicted of murdering two police officers and a Brinks security guard during an armed robbery in 1981, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Boudin was endorsed by Presidential hopeful U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), singer John Legend, and the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, as well as several first-term radical liberal prosecutors including Chicago’s beleaguered Cook County Prosecutor Kim Foxx and Philadelphia’s cop-hating district attorney, Larry Krasner.
Activist Shaun King’s Real Justice PAC and a lot of other money from outside the state of California filled the public defender’s campaign coffers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Boudin was 14 months old when both of his parents left him with a sitter while they committed an armored car robbery in upstate New York, NBC News reported.
After his parents went to prison, he was raised by The Weather Underground’s leaders, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, in a life of privilege that led him to Yale University.
After college, Boudin won a Rhodes scholarship and then worked as a translator for the late Communist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to NBC News.
“Growing up, I had to go through a metal detector and steel gates just to give my parents a hug,” Boudin said in one of his campaign videos.
His mother, Kathy Boudin, was released from prison in 2003 after serving 22 years for the murders, but his father, David Gilbert, remains behind bars serving life in prison, NBC News reported.
The public defender ran his campaign on criminal justice reform, claiming that he was also a “victim” of his parents’ armed robbery in 1981 that left three people dead, two of them police officers.
Boudin has claimed he was motivated to run for office because he has experienced the results of the “destructive effects of mass incarceration,” NBC News reported.
“I had to make difficult staffing decisions today in order to put in place a management team that will help me accomplish the work I committed to do for San Francisco,” Boudin said in a written statement released after the terminations became public.
During his first weeks in office, Boudin also dropped charges against a man who was shot while beating a police officer with a vodka bottle.
Boudin said that he dropped the charges against the 24-year-old suspect, Jamaica Hampton, because his office is investigating the officers for shooting Hampton.
“It would be problematic to ask the officers to testify while they are under investigation,” Boudin told the San Francisco Examiner. Boudin’s office has three years to re-file charges if they choose to do so.
However, dropping charges against a suspect simply because there is an investigation into police use of force is extremely abnormal and unnecessary.
To make the situation more bizarre, the entire incident was captured on video which shows the officers attempting to de-escalate, use less-lethal weapons, and flee from the unprovoked attack before the shooting.
In February, the notoriously anti-police district attorney announced a host of criminal justice reforms that allowed, among other things, gun-toting criminals to stay on the streets.
Boudin said that San Francisco prosecutors will no longer charge suspects for contraband found by police during “stop-and-frisk” searches conducted during the course of another interaction, KTVU reported at the time.
That means that going forward, if officers find a gun or drugs inside a vehicle while conducting a traffic stop for a vehicle violation, for example, the district attorney’s office won’t charge the person for the illegal gun or drugs, KTVU reported.
Boudin also announced that the district attorney’s office would no longer apply California’s three-strike law.
And he made good on a campaign promise to do away with gang enhancements to charges that frequently put gang members behind bars for many years longer than called for by the crime they committed, according to KTVU.
“Today we take action. We send a message that is loud and clear to the police department and to communities of color. We will no longer participate in, condone, tolerate or amplify racist police tactics,” Boudin declared.