California’s attorney general won’t take up prosecution of SFPD rookie in fatal Keita O’Neil shooting

by ZeuCer

California State Attorney General Rob Bonta, on Thursday, decided against prosecuting a then-rookie San Francisco Police Department officer, who fatally shot Keita O’Neil, an unarmed Black man, at a San Francisco housing development in 2017.

On Dec. 1, 2017, former SFPD officer Christopher Samayoa, was riding as a passenger in a patrol vehicle as police were in pursuit of O’Neil, a carjacking suspect. Samayoa shot O’Neil through the moving police vehicle’s windshield, killing him at a Bayview housing project. The officer was fired.

The case has been subject to much legal back and forth.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins argued the case was filed for political reasons by her predecessor, the then D.A. Chesa Boudin. Boudin has denied this. A judge accepted the dismissal but stayed her ruling.

In State A.G. Bonta’s letter to Jenkins, he wrote, “After further review of the evidence, your office filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Officer Samayoa because, as set forth in your February 8, 2023, letter to the Attorney General which was appended to the motion to dismiss, you stated, ‘[i]t appears that the case was filed for political reasons and not in the interests of justice…Given the conflicts that have arisen, the evidentiary problems, and the complete lack of good faith surrounding the filing of this matter, we cannot ethically proceed with this prosecution.’”

In March, a San Francisco Superior Court judge granted Bonta’s office three months to review the shooting, giving his office time to decide if he would prosecute the former officer.

April Green, O’Neil’s aunt, was at that time optimistic that a new set of eyes would be looking at the case. O’Neil’s family and supporters had staged protests against Jenkins for trying to throw out the case. Jenkins wanted to toss a manslaughter charge against Samayoa.

Bonta’s office said they have now thoroughly reviewed this case. The shooting dates back to when George Gascon was district attorney. His successor, Boudin, then filed charges, and Jenkins took over when Boudin was recalled.

“After concluding this comprehensive and thorough review and considering the applicable laws, we conclude that based on all of the evidence available at this time, and considering all likely defenses, the charges against Officer Samayoa cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Bonta wrote. Ultimately he said the D.A.’s dismissal of the case is not an abuse of discretion.

An attorney for Samayoa reacted by saying Jenkins and her team was “push back on the Boudin rhetoric.”

“The legitimacy of her decision is only reinforced by Mr. Bonta’s office. Chris Samayoa can now get back to the life he is so deserving of. This case is a watershed reminder of why Boudin was recalled and that it is a new day in San Francisco,” Samayoa’s attorney Julia Fox said.

This is a developing news story.

KTVU’s Henry Lee contributed to this story.

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