San Francisco, CA — San Francisco's district attorney issued a news release this week noting that the first ever cop has been charged over an on-duty homicide. This news comes after police admitted that an unarmed man was shot and killed by a rookie officer in an incident that was carried out in the style of a drive-by shooting.
Former San Francisco officer Chris Samayoa is charged with fatally shooting 42-year-old Keita O'Neil. Samayoa has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by police officer and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, the release said.
“As far as we are aware, this is the first ever time that the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against a law enforcement officer for a homicide,” District Attorney Chesa Boudin said at a news conference.
O'Neil's aunt, April Green, expressed gratitude for the decision to charge the officer.
"I am happy to hear this news, and hoping it brings some justice to our family," Green said.
Criminal defense attorney John Burris, who represented the O'Neil family, was relieved, reported ABC 7.
"I was quite pleased to see it," said Burris. "I was a little surprised that it wasn't murder, but I understand the DA thinks manslaughter is a charge that is easier to prove than murder."
Samayoa had been on the job for just four days when he opened fire on Keita O'Neil, 42, from the passenger window of a patrol car at around 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2017. The Body Cam footage shows that there was only a matter of seconds between the time the patrol car pulled up to O’Neil, and the time Samayoa fired the fatal shot.
"As other patrol cars closed in on him and blocked his path, Mr. O'Neil ran past the police car where Officer Samayoa was seated in the passenger seat. Officer Samayoa pointed his gun and shot Mr. O'Neil through the passenger side window of the patrol car, killing Mr. O'Neil," Boudin said in a statement.
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"Body camera footage shows not a single other officer pulled out their service weapon or pointed it at O'Neil," Boudin said.
According to a report from The Mercury News, police officials claimed O’Neil was “suspected of assaulting a California Lottery employee and stealing a van that belongs to the agency.” Officers then “chased the van and another SUV seen traveling with it to an area of public housing where O’Neil was shot.”
Police claim that O’Neil was driving the Lottery van, when he jumped out of it while it was still running, and then ran towards their patrol car. They also noted that the four individuals in the SUV took a different route, were stopped by police and arrested, and were later released with no charges.
"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. "In my administration, police officers are not above the law.
"Police officers are obligated to follow the law when using force -- even when responding to serious crimes. As District Attorney, I will continue to hold accountable officers who inflict unlawful violence and breach the trust the public places in them."
The text accompanying the Body Cam footage claimed that the San Francisco Police Department was attempting to increase transparency by requiring their officers to use Body Cameras, and by releasing the footage to the public. However, it should be noted that Samayoa did not turn his body camera on until after the shooting, but the camera still captured the shooting because of an automatic buffering system.
Naturally, the San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA) said they are supporting the former officer and his family after learning of the charges.
"The criminal justice system will allow for the facts surrounding this case to be disclosed," SFPOA President Tony Montoya said in a statement. "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."
When you watch the body camera footage below, imagine what completely delusional mindset it would take to justify opening fire from inside a police cruiser and killing an unarmed man.