Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

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.” 

read more

Follow Us

REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

Join the Conversation


  1. Eleni,

    As I recall, the cops ‘lost’ the windshield which in my opinion is Samoya’s best defense.

    Clearly, despite his pedigree, he panicked and it cost a thief his life and a cop his career.

    I don’t see any reason for this to go any further.

    And, Boudin was the best DA SF has ever had.

    Why do I say that ?

    Because I have 40 years of experience as a Reform School teacher.

    And, Boudin is a serious Reformer.

    And, Reform works.

    Go Niners !!


    votes. Sign in to vote
    1. His pedigree? What are you talking about? I usually find your comments to be fairly insightful but frankly this sounds insane. I don’t want to live in a world where a white police officer can shoot and kill an unarmed black man because he “panicked” and have that be okay. Were you being sarcastic?

      votes. Sign in to vote
      1. Mitch,

        One thing I learned in 5 years as a firefighter was that an emergency is when you screw up someone dies.

        Everything else is just different levels of inconvenience.

        Sorry if I freaked you out with the ‘pedigree’ statement.

        I was being sarcastic about the cops poor judgement in selecting candidates.

        He was perfect POA pick and killed someone his 4th day out.

        I’d have rather had someone just out of the Peace Corps for a hundred grand a year than someone who came here as a sergeant cause he killed someone in a county a little North of here.

        Still, I think prosecuting him was an overreach simply because he was a very raw rookie with no record that I know of for having injured anyone before.

        If I’m wrong, show me and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee at Manny’s.


        votes. Sign in to vote
  2. DA Boudin couldn’t be trusted. This DA know it, the SF public realized it and recalled him easily. The state AG knows DA Boudin was playing games. I suspect this will be dropped completely. All side will point fingers as to why they “just couldn’t do it.”

    votes. Sign in to vote
    1. Tommi,

      Boudin ‘lost’ by 2% of registered voters in a cherry-picked low turnout election that saw a billionaire cabal with a right-wing national agenda spend ten million smackaroos in around 4 months.

      Couple hundred grand of which went to whatshername out new DA for her ‘Volunteer’ work in the campaign.

      Nevertheless, on this point I agree with you that in this case firing was enough.

      I don’t think this kid had malice aforethought.

      I think he simply panicked.

      Do they have a class at the Police Academy practicing shooting through a windshield of a cruiser ?

      If so, I imagine they teach the, ‘Skip Shot’ too.

      Go Warriors !!


      votes. Sign in to vote
    2. Yes, dropping this divisive and emotive case would be the preferred outcome. Civil courts are best for remedies in cases like this.

      votes. Sign in to vote
Leave a comment
Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *