The incident happened when SFPD officer Christopher Samayoa was riding with his training officer as a new hire. They were chasing a suspect accused of stealing a state lottery van when they hit a dead-end road and suspect Keita O’Neil took off on foot. Samayoa fatally shot O’Neil in the head from the passenger side window as O’Neil ran by the patrol car. While Samayoa didn’t turn his body camera on until after the shooting, a default setting captured the event, which was released by SFPD to the press. He was fired in March 2018.
In December 2020, D.A. Chesa Boudin’s office charged Samayoa with five counts, including manslaughter. Samayoa is expected to be released after posting $1,000 bail and to remain out of jail during the criminal proceedings.
“I’m committed to equal enforcement of the law, and to a justice system where the outcomes don’t depend on the color of your skin, how much money you have in the bank, or whether you wear a uniform to work,” Boudin said after the charges were filed.
It’s a bold move by Boudin, a former public defender before becoming D.A., who won the election by promising to be tough on law enforcement. It’s also believed that this is the first time ever that a SFPD officer has been charged with homicide in an officer-involved shooting in the city.
“Police officers are obligated to follow the law when using force – even when responding to serious crimes,” Boudin said. “I will continue to hold accountable officers who inflict unlawful violence and breach the trust the public places in them.” He noted that San Francisco has a “long history” of officer-involved shootings that have led to “no accountability whatsoever, further cementing the idea that police are above the law.”
O’Neil’s family has also filed an excessive force lawsuit against the city and county, which remains pending.
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