Delays Continue as Attorney for SFPD Officer Who Killed Sean Moore Questions Boudin's Handling of Case

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An older woman with a somber face wears a blue blazer with pastel flowers on it. She looks to the left. A yellow sign behind her reads, "Decriminalize mental illness now!"
Cleo Moore, the mother of Sean Moore, gathers with supporters outside the Hall of Justice in San Francisco on May 26, 2023, after it was announced that the case against SFPD officer Kenneth Cha has been further delayed. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

A San Francisco Superior Court judge granted another delay before the first hearing of the police officer who shot Sean Moore, an unarmed Black man, on the steps of his Ingleside neighborhood home in 2017.

The case has languished in its earliest stages since 2021. The hearing was rescheduled for June 23.

Moore died of his injuries in 2020. The next year, then-San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin charged SFPD Officer Kenneth Cha with manslaughter, only the second time in city history an officer was charged regarding an on-duty killing.

A group of people are gathered on the steps of the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. One woman is behind a walker. Many have signs in their hands that read, "Justice for Sean Moore," "Say his name Sean Moore."
The family of Sean Moore and their supporters gather outside the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

But in this newest delay, the defense attorney for Cha, Scott Burrell, hinted how he may seek to have the case thrown out. In court Friday, which he attended via Zoom, Burrell said the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office under Boudin may have withheld evidence helpful to his client.


“I’m preparing a motion, an important motion, based on irregularities of this case, based on information I just received, related to Brady issues, related to how this case was handled from the very beginning,” Burrell told Superior Court Judge Loretta M. Giorgi.

The Brady rule that Burrell invoked prevents prosecutors from withholding evidence that could help the defense in their case.

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“This case was initially prosecuted by the previous office,” Burrell said, referring to Boudin, who was recalled by voters last year.

“I’m aware,” Giorgi dryly responded.

The DA’s office is now under the purview of Brooke Jenkins. The prosecutor assigned to the case, Darby Williams, did not object to Burrell’s request for an extension. In fact, she asked for an additional week of delay due to what she called a “personal issue.”

Cha was responding to a noise complaint at 4 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2017, when he and his partner arrived at Moore’s front gate. Moore, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, argued with officers and a fight ensued. Cha shot Moore twice.

People gather on the steps of the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. A news reporter holds out an ABC7 microphone toward a woman with shoulder-length, brown hair and a navy coat on. Many people surround her. Some people hold signs that read, "Police accountability now!"
Attorney Rebecca Young speaks alongside the family of Sean Moore and their supporters outside the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Rebecca Young, a private attorney who headed the Cha case before being fired by Jenkins — among many Boudin-era staffers — said she believes Burrell will seek to dismiss the case using arguments from a letter Jenkins wrote when she sought to dismiss the Keita O’Neil case in February. Jenkins claimed Boudin acted improperly when he brought charges against SFPD Officer Christopher Samayoa, who fatally shot the unarmed O’Neil in 2017.

A woman with a green headscarf and black face mask holds a green sign that reads, "Justice for Sean Moore!"
A supporter holds a sign that reads, ‘Justice for Sean Moore.’ Many gathered outside the Hall of Justice to support Cleo Moore, the mother of Sean Moore. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

“Think he’s taking his lead from what Brooke Jenkins said when she dismissed the case against Officer Samayoa,” said Young, who attended the court hearing Friday.

Moore’s mother, Cleo Moore, 84, expressed frustration that the case against the officer who killed her son would be delayed yet again.

“I’ve heard from different people how sometimes [attorneys try to] delay the system,” she said. “They wear you out and you get tired, and then you don’t show up to represent. I don’t know if that’s true. But I’m coming. I’m coming. I’m not tired.

“That’s my child. He did not deserve to be killed.”