Ahead of an expected dismissal of the case by District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, the California Attorney General’s office today requested and received an additional 90 days to review the prosecution of Christopher Samayoa, the former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in 2017.
The AG’s office is interested not only in the case but in investigating Jenkins’ handling of it.
Deputy Attorney General Susan Schwartz today asked Judge Loretta Giorgi that the presiding judge stay the DA’s pending dismissal an additional 90 days, specifically to review the actions of the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. Giorgi granted the request.
Last month, Jenkins announced her intention to dismiss the charges against Samayoa, who is believed to be the first on-duty police officer to face homicide charges in San Francisco history for shooting Keita O’Neil, a suspected carjacker who was fleeing. Samayoa was subsequently dismissed from the police department, and the criminal charges were filed by Jenkins’ predecessor and political opponent, ousted former DA Chesa Boudin.
Jenkins revisited the case when she took over from Boudin in 2022. Her office last week requested a dismissal, citing impropriety by her predecessor as well as conflicts of interest precluding her and her prosecutor from handling the case. She outlined her reasoning in a letter to Attorney General Rob Bonta last month, and offered him the opportunity to take over the case.
O’Neil’s aunt, April Green, and her attorney, Brian Ford, met with Bonta on Monday and were told that the statute of limitations was considerably longer than Jenkins had claimed — not nine days remain, but three years — and that the AG may not have received all the evidence in the case when it was handed to him by Jenkins’ office. This raised further questions about Jenkins’ handling of the case.
The AG’s office denied Jenkins’ claims last week, stating in a letter to Ford that they did not constitute a recusable conflict of interest.
With today’s continuance, the AG’s office still has not committed to take over the case, but it now has at least the next three months to decide whether to do so.
Ford said the AG’s request today “confirms that the AG is looking at this case very seriously.”
“We are fully committed to this case, and we fully believe that upon an objective review of the facts and the law in this case, that Mr. Bonta and his office will see fit to continue this prosecution,” Ford said outside the courtroom on Tuesday morning.
“I’m ecstatic. This is a great day,” said Green, who attended the hearing this morning. Green has been the advocate for her nephew since his mother has fallen ill, and recently has been suffering health problems herself.
Green also took comfort in Judge Giorgi’s kindly words for her: “I want you to take this time now to rest, and do what you need to do to get well.”