man pushing woman in wheelchair protest
Keita O'Neil's aunt, April Green, is pushed through a throng of supporters on her way to Wednesday's hearing. Photo by Nick DeRenzi, March 1, 2023

In a packed courtroom at 850 Bryant St. Wednesday  morning, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi granted a six-day delay of District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ application to dismiss manslaughter charges against Officer Christopher Samayoa, who shot and killed Keita O’Neil in 2017.

Judge Giorgi’s decision gives O’Neil’s aunt, April Green, and her attorney, Brian Ford, one week to convince California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office to take the case out of Jenkins’ hands. 

“I do not see any harm in staying the dismissal until the 7th,” Judge Giorgi said, noting that, if the attorney general fails to follow up, she will lift the stay, which would effectively allow the charges to be dismissed.

Jenkins’ grounds for dismissal are that former District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s “desire to make history” blinded his office to the “facts,” and that “they chose to press on for personal political gain,” in spite of Boudin’s subsequent recall.  

Earlier this month, Ford requested Bonta remove the district attorney’s office from the case based on “personal bias and political motivation,” arguing that conflicting opinions within the office and misrepresentation of evidence disqualify Jenkins. 

In his response, Chief Assistant Attorney General Lance Winters wrote: “We do not believe the District Attorney has a recusable conflict of interest in this case,” but that the attorney general’s office is continuing to review the charge “in light of the District Attorney’s intention to dismiss.”

In a statement during today’s hearing, Green, who has Stage 3 ovarian cancer and is confined to a wheelchair, expressed her concern that Bonta’s office isn’t getting all the right information, and has not had time to review all the evidence in Samayoa’s prosecution. 

Among this evidence is body cam footage that, Ford said, indisputably shows that O’Neil was killed in cold blood.

“All we need is time. My nephew’s case is still alive,” urged Green. “I believe once [Bonta] meets with us that things will change. I’m worried he’s not getting all the information.”

While proceedings took place, the action was out in the street. On the steps of 850 Bryant, protestors gathered to speak out against the district attorney’s decision to dismiss the case. Those present included representatives from Critical Resistance; Supervisor Dean Preston’s Office; F12, a group focused on police abolition; and the local Democratic Socialists of America chapter. 

Steve Zeltzer, a labor activist and radio host with KPOO, criticized what he described as the district attorney’s office working on behalf of POA interests, claiming that the dismissal of charges against Officer Samayoa is part of a larger narrative.

“Jenkins is shutting down the unit to investigate crimes by police. The police budget in San Francisco is massive, and just increased.”

Mission Local reported last year on Jenkins’ removal of Boudin-era staffers from O’Neil’s case, and the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week on the shrinking of the Independent Investigative Bureau, the branch of the district attorney’s office that investigates all officer-involved shootings, excessive use of force cases and in-custody deaths.

Alongside this, the Department of Police Accountability is losing nearly $400,000 from its $9.5 million budget and isn’t planning to fill any staff vacancies, according to Mayor Breed’s plans for fiscal year 2023-24.  

Equipto, an organizer with F12, noted the discrepancies between the city’s focus on police killings outside the state and its handling of cases at home.

“You know about George Floyd, but do you know about Keita O’Neil? You know about Breonna Taylor, but do you know about Jessica Williams?”

Jessica Williams was a homeless mother of five who was shot and killed by police in 2016. Then-DA George Gascón declined to file charges against the officer who killed her.

Calling Green’s statement a “heartfelt soliloquy,” Attorney Julia Fox, representing Officer Samayoa, said she didn’t “see the logic behind giving an additional six days to the AG office to do what they already have known they could have done up until this point.”

But Ford and Green are firm in their stance. The district attorney, said Ford, “doesn’t have a good faith basis for dismissal. ‘Politicized’ is not a basis for dismissing a case.”

There is cause for hope; the O’Neil case is garnering international attention with the recent involvement of the Grassroots Law Project, an organization that successfully lobbied for Attorney General Bonta’s engagement in the case of Sean Monterrosa’s 2020 killing.

Green said: “Mayor Breed is standing by Tyre in Tennessee because she believes those police should be held accountable. Why is it that she doesn’t feel our Black men in her own city being murdered by police should not be held accountable? 

“How can she micromanage another killing in another state and not do anything to protect the Black and Brown men in her own city? Where is the justice in this situation?”

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Reporter/Intern. Griffin Jones is a writer born and raised in San Francisco.

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  1. I believe that guns need to be taken out of the hands of police in our country. If it is not obvious by now given the number of Americans killed by police then just read the national statistics. They need to restrict lethal weapons to selected well trained tactical units that can respond to any gun related crime. Patrol cops have numbers, stun guns, batons and rubber bullets to handle 99% of arrests. That should be more than enough. And in the rare occasion that they are fired upon they can call in the tactical units. Statistically in San Francisco over the last 15 years the more sanitation workers have died on the job police officers. I’ve watched so many videos of police shootings when there was no need for the officers to pull a gun. Just watch the recent killing of a man with no legs, out of his wheelchair, trying to run away! and get gunned down and killed by police. Sorry, that to me is cold blooded murder.

    1. Dan,

      Just over 5,000 workers died doing their jobs in the U.S. last year.

      Most dangerous jobs are in roofing and farming and logging and stocking fish …

      Cops and firefighters are not in top 25.

      I’ve seen the old SF Trash Can Marching Brigade in parades.

      I’ve never seen roofers or loggers marching to applause.

      Go Niners !


    2. Cops in san francisco are not allowed to carry tasers for some confusing reason.

      So it goes baton, gun. Pretty severe jump.

  2. Just like the Mario Woods case the far left loons can’t seem to understand that screaming and yelling to the media is much different then actually having to prove police conduct, which again in this case the wackos, led by Boudin, tried to turn a tragic accident into police murder. Sorry folks, while it’s easy to get the press to print your liberal, left wing nonsense, in a court of law you actually have to produce evidence. Every officer involved in the Mario Woods case was not only exonerated of any wrong doing but all of them are now back at work as full duty officers. Nice try. Maybe next time!

    1. That you look at the city you served as a bunch of loons and whackos is exactly why people distrust SFPD. From publically celebrating Jeff Adachi’s passing to swearing, name-calling, and threatening people who disagree with you, you present with character pathology, not unlike that of offenders. Gary, you are cruel and ineffective. Oddly enough, I rarely disagree with your beliefs – but I disagree with your schoolyard bully tactics. That’s the last thing the police need.

      1. Roman,

        SFPD is controlled by a Cowboy cabal.

        They hire violent cops hopping off the LE Underground Railroad and make them into Training Officers.

        Our precinct Captain at Mission has proposed building a concrete barricade around the station.

        Two of the 5 cops who executed Mario Woods were Lateral Transfers who had already shot citizens at their last gigs.

        We need to elect our Police Chief.

        Go Niners !


    2. Gary,

      I saw you once under oath and you were an entirely different person.

      No foul lies about Gascon and Adachi.

      You’re pretty much naked without your foul mouth.

      Go Niners !!


    3. Gary,

      I’ve been challenging you to an on stage debate for over 30 years.

      I hereby challenge you again.

      How about 5 bucks a head entry at the Woman’s building ?

      Think you can stay with this geriatric ole dawg ?

      If not ?

      Shut up.

      Go Niners !


  3. Campers,

    First, we need an Open Source counting system for our Vote.

    Second, we need to elect our Police Chief.

    Everything else is just hot air.

    Go Niners !!


    1. H. brown,

      Enough harping in Opensource. Our election process is incredibly effective under Arntz. He’s not diving into Opensource bc if you know about major changes that take place here, you know that it is associated with a mega waste of dollars and often failed outcomes.

      In total agreement Police chief should be elected. Also supervisor races should be citywide. No brainer.

      Time is ticking for warriors to get it together.

      ML team really firing on a cylinders.

      1. Rocky,

        It bothers me when someone insults me using a pseudonym.

        I consider it an act of cowardice.

        I support Open Source counting to remove doubts as to the integrity of the entire process.

        Proprietary counting algorithms have been shown repeatedly to be vulnerable to hacks.

        Are you afraid of me ?

        I’ll be 79 next month and spent my teaching career implementing Behavior modification of the good kind.

        I designed and implemented a Middle School Hall Monitor program that quieted the City’s toughest school.

        Look at me, here I am teaching you proper conduct.

        C’mon Rocky, come out from behind the bushes.

        What’s your name ?

        Shanahan’s dumping Jimmy G. cause Jimmy criticized his play calling is my guess.

        Bad mistake.

        I’d give him ten mil and start a backup at Left Offensive tackle to make up the cap spread.

        Tune in to this new kid (to me) David Lombardi covering Niners.

        He’s better than Jack Buck and closing on Madden.

        Works all alone and took us on a driverless cab ride while covering the team in one clip and yesterday he did an hour and a half show alone in his car cruising down an interstate.


  4. Griffin, why does the DA need the judge’s approval to not prosecute a case?

    Surely if the DA does not want to continue with a prosecution then that is the end of the matter, at least at the County level? There cannot be a trial with no willing prosecutor.

  5. Any attention given to this case distracts the DA’s office from prosecuting actual criminals.

    Time to let this Chesa Boudin case go. We recalled Chesa for a reason.

    1. Is shooting and killing an unarmed man running away a criminal act? Samoya was fired from the cops for the killing. Of course sending a rookie out to Bayview, a long time practice of the SFPD, suggests the SFPD is complicit. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, and none have been put forth, what possible reason can there be for the dismissal? This has nothing to do with Chesa Boudin and everything to do with Brooke Jenkins, who like Boudin’s predecessor, refuses to prosecute the cops. Why? Because like Jenkins, Gascon is a big talking opportunist. And a pathetic coward.

      1. The cop made a terrible mistake in shooting a fleeing carjacker, and he was fired for it. That’s appropriate. Criminal prosecution is not.

        Say it with me: “Fleeing carjacker.” Not “unarmed man.” Not some innocent kid gunned down randomly.

        1. WOW! So you are OK with cops murdering unarmed fleeing suspects in the back?
          You are OK with cops acting as cop, judge and jury and executioner? Must be a Republican.

          1. I know it’s your worst insult, to call someone a Republican. Did you know that 13% of residents of this city are Republicans? And a majority of the US House of Representatives?

            You might want to sit down now as your worldview is about to be irreparably rocked.

            In fact, I am not a Republican. I am a Democrat but not a Chesa Boudin fan. Believe it or not, that describes most Democrats.

            A rookie cop made a mistake in shooting a fleeing carjacker. People make mistakes. I know you probably don’t believe cops are people, but they are. He deserved to be fired. And he was. But that’s sufficient.

            May I suggest you consider becoming a cop, as your judgment would always be 100% perfect?