WARNING: DISTRESSING VIDEO BELOW
San Francisco D.A. Says ‘No One is Above the Law’
(CA) – How many times do we hear that phrase and how many times are we disappointed that someone ends up being above the law? Chesa Boudin won the position of District Attorney in San Francisco because of his progressive stance, including a willingness to prosecute police misconduct. He is following through with his promise. D.A. Boudin filed multiple charges against former police officer Christopher Samayoa for the 2017 shooting death of Keita O’Neil. At a news conference, D.A. Boudin said, “As far as we are aware, this is the first ever time that the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has filed homicide charges against a law enforcement officer for a homicide while on duty.”
The Murder of Keita O’Neil
In the 2017 incident, police officers with the San Francisco Police Department, were looking for a suspect in an attempted carjacking. rookie Officer Christopher Samayoa, who was on his fourth day on the job with the police department, was riding with his partner. They saw a man running and pulled up next to him. As the car rolls past the man, Keita O’Neil, Officer Samayoa shoots Mr. O’Neil through the window of the police vehicle, killing him. Mr. O’Neil was not armed.
It really doesn’t matter if Mr. O’Neil was the individual who attempted to carjack someone. Officer Samayoa was not in fear for his life. He had made no attempt to stop Mr. O’Neil, not even giving an verbal order. Nothing. He just shot the man. Officer Samayoa’s actions were so far outside of policy that you would think they were indefensible. The police chief seemed to think so. He fired Samayoa, but as was common practice, no charges were filed against him at the time.
Police Union Outraged at Firing of Samayoa
Well, you would think no one could argue that Samayoa’s actions were wrong, but in steps the San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA). According to the KPIX5 video below, “Just after the shooting, the police union blasted the chief’s decision to fire Samayoa, noting the rookie cop had only been on the job for four days.” This comment is stunning. What is the union trying to say? Do they think every officer should be give one free pass on a deadly force incident? Are they saying we should just blow off a man losing his life because, hey, it was just a rookie mistake. He’ll learn.
The union tried to justify Samayoa’s actions by saying they were “…chasing because he was a suspect…” Yes. Mr. O’Neil was a suspect. That means they had not finished gathering evidence. Mr. O’Neil had not gone to court. He had not been convicted. And he didn’t do anything to place the officers in fear for their lives. Our system is based on innocent until proven guilty, but even if found guilty, it was never Samayoa’s job to mete out punishment.
Officer Charged for Killing Unarmed Man
There have to be consequences for excessive force by police officers. Police violence cannot be tolerated. In this case, thanks to D.A. Chesa Boudin, justice is being sought. According to NPR.com,
“Former San Francisco police officer Chris Samayoa was formally charged with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by a police officer and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence.”
Another Officer Indicted
Christopher Samayoa is not the only officer to face an indictment. A grand jury also handed one down on Officer Christopher Flores. I think this one will be a tough call. Officer Flores was being attacked. He was in fear for his life. I think the part that convinced the grand jury to indict him was that another officer was telling him to stop shooting after the first shot took the assailant down, but Flores kept on shooting. Jamaica Hampton, who was determined to be mentally ill, “survived but suffered permanent nerve damage in his left arm and had to have his leg amputated as a result of the shooting.” I’m not sure which situation will win here, the officer being in fear for his life tempered by him not stopping when he should have or sympathy for a mentally ill man who will now have to include physical disabilities as well.
Note: Before people lose their minds that D.A. Boudin is going after all officers, he has declined to file charges in two other officer involved shootings. This is not about attacking officers. It’s about no one being above the law.