upper waypoint

Demonstrators Demand State Take Up Keita O'Neil Homicide Case Ahead of Tuesday Deadline

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Various people sit on the top of the steps leading to a courthouse with signs and photos, in center is April Green and Judy O'Neill
Judy O'Neil (center), mother of Keita O'Neil, and her sister, April Green, sit outside the State of California offices in San Francisco on March 6, 2023, during a rally calling on Attorney General Rob Bonta to prosecute the former SFPD officer who killed Keita O'Neil. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Demonstrators outside California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s San Francisco office on Monday called on him to take up a historic prosecution of a city police officer charged with shooting and killing a carjacking suspect, Keita O’Neil.

The family of O’Neil, who were at the rally, said they were meeting with Bonta this afternoon as part of their push to sustain the first-ever prosecution of a San Francisco police officer, the man who killed O’Neil.

A woman speaks into a microphone with people standing around her and a court building behind her.
April Green, aunt of Keita O'Neil, speaks outside the Supreme Court of California building in San Francisco on March 6, 2023, during a rally calling on state Attorney General Rob Bonta to prosecute the former SFPD officer who killed Keita O'Neil. Judy O'Neil, mother of Keita O'Neil and sister of Green, sits beside her. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

O’Neil’s aunt, April Green, spoke on the steps of the state Supreme Court in San Francisco earlier today, saying, “At this point, Rob Bonta is our only hope. I'm hoping when he leaves that he will see the case from our perspective, but also to give the case time.”

Charges against Christopher Samayoa, a former San Francisco police officer charged with shooting and killing O'Neil, will be officially dismissed on Tuesday, unless Bonta agrees to take up the case.

People gathered outside a court building holding banners, with a large banner in foreground that reads "Evict Brooke Jenkins"
Family, friends and activists gather on the steps of the Supreme Court of California building in San Francisco on March 6, 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The case was most recently in the hands of San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. Last month, Jenkins moved to dismiss charges against Samayoa brought by her predecessor, Chesa Boudin, about three years after the incident.

On March 1, a judge ordered a one-week delay on the dismissal decision after a heartfelt plea from Green. The reprieve was intended to give Bonta additional time to review and decide on the case.

Related Stories

Video footage shows Samayoa, who was in his fourth day of a field training program, shooting O’Neil during a police chase in December 2017, after O'Neil allegedly stole a California Lottery van.

Samayoa is shown firing his weapon through a patrol car window and hitting O’Neil, a 42-year-old Black man, as he tries to escape on foot. Samayoa was subsequently fired.

Boudin, who was recalled from office last summer, charged Samayoa with multiple counts of manslaughter and assault, marking the first homicide prosecution in San Francisco history against a police officer for an on-duty killing.

Jenkins, however, has chosen to dismiss the case, arguing in a Feb. 8 letter to Bonta that Boudin wrongly pursued manslaughter charges against Samayoa for “political reasons and not in the interest of justice.”

An older Black woman, wearing a blue and purple cloth mask pulled to her chin, and wearing a long black trench coat and a bright blue blouse, speaks into a microphone, holding a sign that says "Sean Moore." The wooden doors of the building and gold text on a transom window above them are blurred in the background.
Cleo Moore, whose son, Sean Moore, was shot by San Francisco police in 2017, attends a rally in support of the family of Keita O'Neil as well as her own son outside the Supreme Court of California building in San Francisco on March 6, 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Jenkins also said her office had “discovered an internal conflict in the case that impacts our ability to handle the matter,” referring to opposing statements from the attorney in Boudin’s office who initially handled the case and the DA investigator who signed the arrest warrant.

In a letter sent on Feb. 28, Bonta’s office disagreed that there was a conflict preventing Jenkins from taking up the case in her jurisdiction.

Prosecuting Samayoa would be a historic move for Bonta, who made promises to ramp up police accountability when stepping into office.

“We need to rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities. And I believe that law enforcement are invaluable parts of our communities and that the vast majority want to build and earn that trust,” Bonta said in his swearing-in ceremony in 2021. “Accountability is part of that trust.”

A younger African American woman, with shoulder-length black hair and a white blouse beneath a black cardigan, speaks into a microphone she holds, standing behind a large black banner that reads in white text, "In the name of [out of frame] charge the killer."
Kaylah Williams May speaks on the steps of the Supreme Court of California building in San Francisco on March 6, 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Correction (March 7): The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Attorney General Rob Bonta would have nine days to take up the homicide case against former SFPD officer Christopher Samayoa before the statute of limitations expires. In fact, Bonta has until Tuesday (March 7) to decide whether to take it. If he does not do so, the case will be dismissed.

KQED's Sara Hossaini and Beth LaBerge contributed to this story.

Sponsored

lower waypoint
next waypoint
Paul Pelosi's Attacker Apologizes at Resentencing, but Prison Term Is UnchangedIs California’s Wine Industry in Trouble?US Universities Expand Climate Change Degree Offerings Amid Growing DemandCalifornia's Class of 2024 Lags in Student Aid Applications, Data ShowsAnimal Sedative Linked to US Overdoses Spurs Call for More SF Drug MonitoringThe Hidden Dangers of Sharing Adorable Photos of Your Child OnlineUAW Strike Expands To UCLA, UC Davis CampusEighth-Grader's Call to 911 About Teacher's Outburst Causes StirSal Khan on 'How AI Will Revolutionize Education (and Why That’s a Good Thing)'Following UC Santa Cruz's Lead, Academic Workers at UC Davis and UCLA Join Strike Over Response to Pro-Palestinian Protests