A judge moved up a court date for Christopher Samayoa, the former San Francisco police officer who shot and killed a fleeing suspect, after the California Attorney General’s office announced on Friday that it is nearing a decision on whether to take over his prosecution.
“We have not made a final decision yet, but we are close,” said Deputy Attorney General Susan Schwartz in court. She suggested that the attorney general could reach its final decision within the next two to three weeks.
Since March, the attorney general’s office has been reviewing the case against Samayoa, a rookie officer who, in 2017, shot and killed an unarmed suspected carjacker, Keita O’Neil, through his squad car window. O’Neil was fleeing when he was shot in the head, seconds after officers arrived on the scene.
In February, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ office announced its intention to dismiss the case, claiming that her office had a conflict of interest, and accusing the former district attorney, Chesa Boudin, of bringing the charges for political reasons.
Samayoa was dismissed from the police department after O’Neil’s death, and the manslaughter charges brought against him by Boudin in 2020 are believed to be the first time an on-duty San Francisco police officer has faced homicide charges.
Though the attorney general’s office originally said it would review the case and Jenkins’ handling of it by early June, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi today offered to move up the date, and all parties agreed to appear in court on May 19.
Back in March, Giorgi granted the attorney general’s office’s request to delay the case’s dismissal while it reviewed the file. Under current law, the office is required to investigate any cases in California when a police officer kills an unarmed person, but since O’Neil’s 2017 death came before the law’s passage, the case is not subject to that process.
The District Attorney’s Office has repeatedly been accused of slow-walking this case and others involving prosecutions of police officers. Yet on Friday, at Judge Giorgi’s suggestion to move up the next court appearance, prosecutor Darby Williams interjected, saying she was in favor of a speedy trial: “I would propose a sooner date, only because of the issues around the right to the defendant to have his preliminary hearing heard within 60 days.”
Samayoa’s defense attorney, Michael Rains, remained silent.
Judge Giorgi, who had already proposed to move up the case prior to the interjection, was dismissive of Williams’ reasoning: “Oh, we’ve long passed that.”
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…
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins on Thursday told the family of Keita O’Neil, an unarmed carjacking suspect shot dead by a San Francisco policeman in 2017, that she intends to dismiss the charges against the officer…
This time last year, Christopher Samayoa was set to be the first-ever San Francisco police officer to sit a criminal trial for an on-duty homicide. He was charged by DA Chesa Boudin in 2020 for…