A grand jury on Friday indicted rookie San Francisco Police Department Officer Christopher Flores on unspecified charges in connection with his shooting of Jamaica Hampton, a man who wielded a glass bottle at Flores and his partner on Mission and 23rd streets a year ago today, according to District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Hampton was also indicted.
As is generally the case in a grand jury indictment, the District Attorney declined to specify the charges, explaining that Flores must first surrender and an arraignment date must be set. The charges will then be announced.
“I encourage Officer Flores and Mr. Hampton to voluntarily surrender,” Boudin said in a tweet shortly following the Monday announcement.
The police department did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether Flores is still employed with the SFPD although, in its announcement, the DA’s office referred to him as a current SFPD officer. An officer by the name of Christopher Flores also appears on this year’s city payroll, with a salary of $89,755.
Surveillance footage of the incident on Dec. 7, 2019, showed Flores shoot Hampton once as Hampton was crawling on the ground on 23rd Street, after Hayes had already shot him multiple times. Hayes, a training officer working with Flores at the time, told his trainee to “stop, stop, stop” after Flores shot Hampton once.
Flores is the second SFPD officer in less than a month to face fresh criminal charges for on-duty conduct. On Nov. 23, Boudin announced manslaughter charges against former SFPD officer Christopher Samayoa, another officer undergoing field training, for his shooting and killing of Keita O’Neil, a carjacking suspect, in December 2017.
Boudin, a former San Francisco deputy public defender, ran on a platform of holding police accountable.
But Hampton was also indicted by the grand jury on Friday. According to body camera footage, he attacked officers Flores and Hayes with an eight-and-a-half-inch Grey Goose vodka bottle when they stopped him near the corner of 23rd and Mission streets on the morning of Dec. 7 last year. The attack left Flores bleeding from his head, according to the footage.
The DA’s office also did not specify the charges against Hampton, 25, although following the incident last year, he was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault on a police officer, threat to an executive officer, and vandalism.
Shortly after taking office a month later in January, Boudin withdrew those charges pending further investigation of the incident. At that time, Hampton remained in the hospital following his amputation.
John Crew, a former ACLU attorney who has observed the San Francisco Police Department for decades, said the circumstances of Samayoa and Flores were different, as Friday’s indictment was ultimately a decision of the grand jury and not Boudin himself.
But “even though there are differences between a grand jury and a DA choosing to file charges on his or her own initiative,” Crew said, “the fact that the DA took evidence to the grand jury is a sign of a DA that is not going to protect officers from scrutiny under the law.”
In a statement Monday, Tony Montoya, the president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, criticized Boudin for giving a grand jury the responsibility of indicting Hampton — a move Montoya called “appalling.”
“Jamaica was the aggressor,” Montoya wrote, “and Officer Flores acted to protect his own life and to protect the public.”
Monday evening, Chief Bill Scott also reacted negatively to the news. “Given the facts as we know them, I am surprised and, quite frankly, disappointed by this felony indictment against one of our officers,” he said in a statement.
He went on to cite specific areas of the police department’s use-of-force policy — that an officer is justified in using deadly force when he or she perceives an immediate threat — and implied that Flores’ shooting of Hampton was justified.
“While I find today’s indictment surprising and troubling based on the circumstances,” Scott said, “I have faith in our judicial system and confidence that justice will ultimately be done in this case.”