San Francisco Police Officer Christopher Flores has been indicted on charges of assault with a semi-automatic firearm, negligent discharge of a firearm, and assault by a public officer in connection to his shooting of Jamaica Hampton in December of last year.
Flores shot Hampton after Hampton attacked Flores and his partner with an eight-and-a-half-inch glass bottle on Mission and 23rd.
The grand jury also indicted Hampton on four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of resisting arrest with force or threat, and battery on a police officer.
Although both men face serious criminal charges, they appear not to have been treated equally at the jail.
Both men surrendered at San Francisco County Jail at around noon on Tuesday. Officer Flores, who remains with the SFPD, was in and out the door in 26 minutes. It took the jail close to four hours to process Hampton, according to court records.
Danielle Harris, the deputy public defender representing Hampton, said Hampton was at the jail for around eight hours. He showed up to the jail at 11:30 a.m. and ended up walking out the door at approximately 7:40 p.m.
Flores, meanwhile, was booked at 12:12 p.m. and was released at 12:38 p.m., according to court records.
During the time Flores was being processed, “we were sitting in the lobby where anyone with no special access would enter,” Harris said. “We never saw Mr. Flores or his lawyer. That means that he was given some special privileges in terms of his surrender.”
Flores’ lawyer, Nicole Pifari, an attorney with Rains, Lucia, Stern, St. Phalle & Silver, did not immediately respond to questions about Flores’ processing time.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Monday that a grand jury returned indictments for both men, though it could not specify the charges, as neither had yet surrendered. Both surrendered at San Francisco County Jail at 425 Seventh St. on Tuesday, and were eventually released on “zero bail.”
Boudin confirmed the specific indictments against both men on Wednesday.
“The grand jury indicted both Officer Flores and Mr. Hampton,” Boudin told Mission Local. “It found that, based on the charges, both were victims of each other’s actions, and our decision to prosecute based on the grand jury’s indictment is part of a broader effort to enforce the law equally and hold people accountable for acts of violence.”
Boudin added that: “The law requires us to present any exculpatory evidence that’s in our possession to the grand jury. The jury saw the evidence, including everything available to us that could exonerate either Mr. Hampton or Officer Flores. This was a decision made by a jury of our peers.”
The grand jury’s indictment of Flores makes the young officer the second current or former San Francisco Police officer to face charges for a police shooting in less than a month. On Nov. 23, Boudin announced manslaughter charges against former SFPD Officer Christopher Samayoa, who shot and killed Keita O’Neil, a carjacking suspect, in December 2017.
Flores’ charges stem from his involvement in an incident that took place on December 7 last year at 23rd and Mission streets. Flores and his partner, Officer Sterling Hayes, Flores’ training officer, stopped Hampton on 23rd as they were searching for a burglary suspect.
Body camera footage shows Hampton attacked the officers with a glass Grey Goose vodka bottle, causing Flores to bleed from his head. And as the men attempted to apprehend Hampton, Hampton ran off. He eventually ran back in the direction of Hayes, and Hayes fired at Hampton multiple times, striking him and causing him to fall to the ground.
Surveillance footage then shows Flores shoot Hampton while Hampton was crawling on the ground. After Flores fired, Hayes repeatedly yelled “stop, stop, stop,” calling into question whether Flores’ shooting of Hampton was reasonable.
Pifari, Flores’ lawyer, argued that it was.
“Under the law, the force Officer Flores used must be objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances he faced that day — and those circumstances include the fact that Hampton had just tried to kill him, an effort that resulted in Officer Flores sustaining a serious head injury,” Pifari said in an email.
“Under these circumstances, we do not believe the charges against Officer Flores are fair, and we will do everything in our power to fight the charges he faces,” Pifari added.
Hayes has not been indicted or charged with the incident and is back on duty. Hampton, meanwhile, had his leg amputated as a result of the incident. Harris, Hampton’s attorney, said Hampton “finally received his prosthetic leg just last month and is deep in the hard work of learning to use it.”
“Mr. Hampton was in a crisis state when he encountered police on Dec. 7 last year, due to a pre-existing behavioral health condition, and he acted without the mental state that any crime requires,” Harris added. “This doesn’t make the actions okay, but it does mean they are not criminal under our laws.”