While a new team at the District Attorney’s office is taking its time to assess pending criminal charges against police officers, DA Brooke Jenkins sent a reassuring message late last month through her spokesperson: That she is in contact with the families of those injured or slain by police.
That claim, however, is false, according to the family of Sean Moore, one of the two unarmed men killed by San Francisco police whose SFPD assailants have been charged with homicide.
Cleo Moore, Sean’s mother, said Jenkins’ public statements about engaging with victims’ families have been deceptive.
“I have never spoken with her in my life,” Moore told Mission Local. Sean Moore’s death is one of San Francisco’s highest-profile recent police homicide cases: He was unarmed in January, 2017, and on his family’s property when the shooting occurred, following a physical altercation initiated by police. The mêlée, and Moore’s subsequent shooting by Officer Kenneth Cha, was caught on camera.
The case is also one of very few in San Francisco history in which criminal charges have been brought against an officer for on-duty violence.
Not only has Moore’s mother had no contact with the DA’s office, she says, the case against the officers continues to be delayed, a year after charges were brought against Cha.
KRON Channel 4 reported last month that Jenkins’ spokesperson said, “the DA is in contact with each of the families, and will continue to keep them apprised of developments in each case.” CBS News reported a similar statement from the DA’s office, after victims’ families in October convened to demand Jenkins hold police accountable for their family members’ deaths.
When asked by Mission Local, Jenkins’ spokesperson, Randy Quezada, declined to comment on “private conversations.” He did not confirm whether the DA is in contact with victims’ families regarding the stalled prosecutions.
Adriana Camarena, a spokesperson for the family of Luis Gongora Pat, whose 2016 killing by police was reportedly being reinvestigated by former DA Chesa Boudin, said that the family’s meeting with the DA’s office was canceled after Jenkins took office in July, and still no one has contacted them.
The family of 42-year-old Keita O’Neil, who was shot dead by rookie ex-officer Chris Samayoa in December, 2017, as he fled police, have met with Jenkins twice by their own prompting, but have gotten little concrete information, and say those conversations got heated. Charges have been filed against the former officer who killed O’Neil, but the case has been stalled.
Sean Moore died in 2020, following complications from his shooting two years prior. Boudin brought charges against Cha in November, 2021, but it is unclear where the case stands now.
A San Francisco Police Department spokesperson confirmed that Cha is still employed by the SFPD, and is out on paid medical leave.
Wednesday’s scheduled setting of a preliminary hearing date was again delayed when Cha’s defense attorney filed for a continuance. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta M. Giorgi granted the continuance, and a new court date was set for January 13.
The new prosecutor assigned to Cha’s prosecution, Darby Williams, did not object to the continuance, despite the case being delayed several times through the year, Sean Moore’s family and others present said.
What’s more, Cleo Moore said, Williams, like Jenkins, hasn’t made any effort to communicate with her family, even though they see one another in the same courtroom. Williams was put on the case this summer.
“She never even introduced herself to us, so obviously she’s not gonna be working on our behalf, that’s for sure,” said Moore’s elder son, Kenneth Blackmon, who regularly attends hearings with his mother. The prosecutor formerly assigned to the case, Rebecca Young, would keep in touch with his family, Blackmon said.
Jenkins, after her appointment to DA in July, fired Young and most other prosecutors who worked in the DA’s Independent Investigations Bureau on police shootings and other criminal misconduct by law enforcement.
Williams “has yet to even speak to me or acknowledge that I’m sitting there in the courtroom,” Moore said.
Blackmon said that since the change in administration, he’s had no contact with the DA’s office either: “No, not at all, ever.”
“Never, ever,” Blackmon said when asked if he had spoken with Jenkins. “She might have spoken to one of the other families, but she didn’t speak to us.”
Others have struggled to get facetime with Jenkins and Williams, such as Keita O’Neil’s aunt, April Green, who is outspoken about her concerns that the case against her nephew’s killer will be dropped. After one meeting, Green told Mission Local that she and Williams were “throwing daggers,” and she left feeling “insulted.”
A preliminary hearing has not yet been set for either Samayoa or Cha.
But not everyone feels so bold as Green. “I don’t dare try to go into her office,” said Moore, who just turned 84. “I’m not well myself, and it’s beginning to get me down. But I’m going to try to hold on as long as I can.”