SAN FRANCISCO—Former San Francisco police officer, Chris Samayoa, was charged with homicide on November 23, for the fatal shooting of Keita O’Neil in December 2017. San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin took office in January 2020, continuing the investigation. The district attorney’s office filed a warrant for Samayoa’s arrest, which a judge signed on Saturday, November 21.
Charges were formerly filed that included voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by a police officer, and discharge with a firearm with gross negligence against former officer Samayoa.
Twitter users criticized Boudin for perceived failure to prosecute crimes over the course of 2020, including crimes such as domestic violence, attempted murder, first-degree burglary, assault, and sexual assault, narcotics possession, with such cases under “further investigation” or dropped.
According to a press release, Boudin commented on the O’Neil case.
“For too long, we have seen the failures of our legal system to hold police accountable for violence inflicted against members of the public they are entrusted to keep safe. In my administration, police officers are not above the law,” said District Attorney Boudin. “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.”
On December 1, 2017, San Francisco Police Department Officers Edric Talusan and Chris Samayoa followed 42-year-old Keita O’Neil, suspected to have carjacked a California State Lottery minivan. In a police vehicle, Talusan and Samayoa followed the van through the Bayview District. After following the van for a few blocks, the van reached a dead-end street, and O’Neil jumped out and began to run on foot.
“Criminal prosecutions of police officers for excessive use of force have been exceedingly rare, resulting in a deep erosion of trust when communities feel law enforcement officers are above the law,” said ACLA police practices expert John Crew.
“In San Francisco, this lack of accountability has too often become normalized. District Attorney Boudin’s willingness to apply the law’s standard to the conduct of a police officer, and, where legally justified, criminally prosecute an officer might help to reverse that trend.”
“We have to confront the problematic culture of SFPD that allows officer involved shootings to occur without serious and objective investigations,” said Angela Chan. “For many years, the highest ranks of the SFPD have rewarded officer-involved shootings with medals of valor when an officer shoots a community member, particularly a Black, Latino, or Asian American community members, and even when an internal affairs investigation is pending.”
Community members on Twitter, criticized District Attorney Boudin. On a link related to the case posted on his Twitter account, Steve Adams wrote: “And, you say your office is underfunded? Try focusing on active cases.”
Commenting on Boudin’s popularly believed failure to prosecute criminals, Willy Naaktgeboren commented:
“Well, I guess equity demands de-prosecuting these officers as well as all the other garden variety criminals.”
An anti-Boudin account under the screen name “Chesa’s Disappointed Parents” wrote: “Your choice to go after an officer who fired in self-defense while keeping open air drug markets alive and well on market street and the Tenderloin speaks volumes as to why you are unsuited for your job.”
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office did not request former Officer Samayoa’s pretrial detention and a judge signed a warrant for his arrest with a $1,000 bail.
Samayoa is expected to surrender on the warrant later in the week of November 23 thru November 29, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office indicated.