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SF District Attorney Won't Charge Police Officer Who Shot, Killed Sean Moore

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a woman in a suit stands at a pulpit with a microphone. Behind her is a San Francisco flag
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins speaks during a press conference at City Hall on July 7, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ office confirmed Monday she is dismissing charges against former San Francisco Police officer Kenneth Cha, who fatally shot Sean Moore at his home in 2017. Her predecessor, Chesa Boudin, had filed voluntary manslaughter charges against Cha in 2021.

“It’s awful,” Cleo Moore, Sean Moore’s mother, told KQED. “He killed him. And I can’t change that.”

However, Jenkins said she could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Cha did not act in self-defense. In her explanation for dropping Moore’s case (PDF), Jenkins pointed to the fact that former District Attorney George Gascón did not originally prosecute Cha when he was in office. Boudin, once he took over the DA role, did later file charges against the officer. Jenkins has said Boudin took on the police shooting case for “political reasons.”

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Jenkins has now dropped all three police shooting cases that Boudin initially filed.

“Mr. Moore’s subsequent death, tragic as it is, did not change the analysis, which is grounded in the events that occurred at the time of the incident,” Jenkins said in an email to KQED. “At this time we draw the same conclusion that was explained in the declination under Gascón, and can not ethically prosecute this case in good faith.”

Mission Local first reported Jenkins’ decision on Sunday.

Moore, 46, was in his Ocean View apartment on Jan. 6, 2017, when police knocked on his front gate to respond to a neighbor’s noise complaint. He yelled at the officers to leave, and when he finally opened the gate and stood at the top of the stairs, officers yelled at him to get to the ground. Moore refused, and Cha’s partner struck Moore with a baton just before Cha shot Moore twice.

Moore had been struggling with mental health challenges, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and appeared aggravated when officers responded to the neighbor’s complaint, according to video footage.

He died of his injuries three years later, while serving an unrelated sentence at San Quentin State Prison. The cause of death was found to be an obstruction in his stomach related to scar tissue from the earlier gunshot wound.

Boudin took office in 2020, and in 2021 he filed a case against Cha for Moore’s death.

Jenkins later replaced Boudin in a recall election in 2022. This case is the third and final police shooting Boudin pursued during his term. Jenkins has since moved to dismiss all three.

No district attorney has ever successfully brought charges against a San Francisco police officer for an officer-involved shooting.

“While I will hold law enforcement or anyone accountable who violates the law, I have a sworn duty to follow the facts and evidence—period,” Jenkins wrote in her decision.

In May, Jenkins dropped charges against a police officer who in 2019 shot Jamaica Hampton. Hampton survived his injuries but had to have his leg amputated.

Earlier this year, Jenkins also dropped a case involving former SFPD officer Christopher Samayoa, who shot and killed Keita O’Neil, who was fleeing on foot after a suspected carjacking. After public outcry, California Attorney General Rob Bonta reviewed Jenkins’ decision in O’Neil’s case, but he ultimately sided with Jenkins. In her most recent explanation letter, Jenkins invited the attorney general to also review her latest decision in Moore’s case.

“We understand the complexity of this case and welcome review by the Attorney General’s Office should the need arise,” Jenkins wrote. “The Attorney General noted in his May 18 letter, regarding my decision to seek a dismissal in People v. Samayoa, that prosecutors ‘should only file charges only if they believe there is sufficient admissible evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.’ We agree.”

The years-long back and forth between city-elected prosecutors over her son’s case has taken an enormous toll on Cleo Moore, who is 84 and has health challenges.

“Ms. Brooke Jenkins, she’s got to answer to God,” she said. “I truly believe in that, because I am a Christian, and I know that she has to answer for the wrongs that she is doing.”

KQED reporter Sara Hossaini contributed to this story.

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