Cleo Moore, Sean Moore's mother, in court on April 28, 2023. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan.

A San Francisco Superior Court Judge on Friday morning allowed for one more delay in the prosecution of San Francisco police officer Kenneth Cha. In 2017, Cha shot Sean Moore as Moore stood on his own front steps in Oceanview. 

But this would be the last continuance, insisted Judge Loretta M. Giorgi. 

“​​I’ve let the attorneys know, very clearly, that when we come back in four weeks, I’m gonna set this for the preliminary hearing,” Giorgi assured Cleo Moore, the mother of Cha’s victim, Sean Moore. 

Cleo Moore gave a brief statement in court today, in which she expressed her frustration at being kept in the dark by the District Attorney’s Office, and regularly appearing in court only to have the date pushed back repeatedly. 

“I’ve been very, very patient with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office,” Moore said. “And this morning, for the first time since I’ve been here, I got a ‘good morning’ from the person that says she’s representing my son.” 

Moore’s son, Sean Moore, died in 2020, three years after his shooting, from complications brought on by his gunshot wounds. 

Though homicide charges were filed against Cha in 2021, he is still employed by the SFPD, and the case has dragged on through a change of administration at the District Attorney’s Office. Earlier this year, DA Brooke Jenkins moved to dismiss the only other pending homicide charge against a San Francisco police officer — the case against former officer Chris Samayoa, who shot and killed Keita O’Neil in 2017. 

Since last month, Cha’s attorney, Scott Burrell, has been reviewing Moore’s medical records, which the defense only received in March. 

Just before the last court date in March, Burrell said that the District Attorney’s Office began sending him “hundreds of pages” of discovery, including Moore’s medical records. Why this information was not provided earlier is unclear. 

And when Jenkins first took office, an internal study on police shootings in general looked into whether other circumstances, such as the victim’s health, could be to blame for their deaths. 

These moves to investigate Sean Moore’s health indicate that Jenkins’ office is raising questions about the validity of prosecuting police shooters like Cha, and have the Moore family wondering whether Cha’s charges will be dropped. 

The Moore family has long struggled to get in contact with the DA’s Office. Cleo Moore noted that today was the first time that the prosecutor, Darby Williams, had even acknowledged her existence. The two exchanged tense words in the hallway outside the courtroom, and Cleo Moore accused Williams of not communicating with her. 

“I appreciate your frustration,” said Williams, who assured Moore that she was working on the case. “I do want you to remember, though … I have been on the case for a whopping eight months.” 

According to Moore and her other son, Kenneth Blackmon, the District Attorney’s Office also canceled two meetings with the family this spring. Moore says the DA would not meet with her if her family’s attorney, former DA and public defender Rebecca Young, was present, and wouldn’t consent to meeting with an ACLU representative, either.

Young implied that if Moore had been a white, wealthy man, he would not have faced such pushback.

“Can you imagine if Bob Lee’s family wanted to meet with her and said, ‘We wanna bring our attorney?’” Young said in an interview, referring to the tech executive who was stabbed to death earlier this month. Young felt Lee’s family would perhaps get different accommodations from the District Attorney’s Office. 

“Is a homicide different because it’s a Black man … with a mental illness?” Moore asked. “A homicide is a homicide.” 

Williams declined to provide a comment after the court hearing today, and the District Attorney’s Office has not yet responded to a request for comment. 

A preliminary hearing date will be set at next month’s court date, Judge Giorgi said, and attorneys were expected to have reviewed all the new records in the case by then.  

“I’m gonna push them — I promise you that I’m gonna push them,” Giorgi told Cleo Moore in court.  

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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.

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  1. Let’s be clear re: subpoena power – the defense has the same power of subpoena as the prosecution. A subpoena is an order from the court to produce records and/or to personally appear. Either side can use subpoena power. If the defense felt Sean Moore’s medical records were relevant to any defense it could have issued a subpoena and asked for the records to be produced in court. It didn’t do that here.
    Instead, the prosecution subpoenaed the documents, seemingly for the defense. Why didn’t the defense do that two years ago after the case was filed? Unanswered question.
    What is the big deal about Sean Moore’s medical records? – The prosecution researched, as it should have, whether medical malpractice contributed to Moore’s death. The defense should also have researched this question if it was doing its job. The overwhelming weight of legal authority is that medical malpractice is not an “intervening, superseding cause” that would remove criminal liability (proximate cause) from the defendant.
    A different cause of death would be needed to break the “chain of causation” – such as a heart attack.
    But Sean Moore died as a result of intestinal obstruction, scar tissue buildup, from gunshot wounds to the abdomen. He did not die of cancer, or a heart attack or some other unrelated disease process.
    The question is not why weren’t the medical records turned over before (they hadn’t previously been subpoenaed per the above legal analysis) the question is if the defense felt that Moore’s medical records were relevant why didn’t the defense use the subpoena power of the court to command that the medical records be produced?
    The innuendo that medical records were withheld from the defense is completely and utterly false.

  2. to suggest that we as observers of the events cannot expect a proper prosecution for the death of a person underestimates the will of the people to obtain justice.

    no justice.
    no peace.

  3. Case will be dropped. It’s unwinable and the new DA knows it. Sorry but that’s the truth when things go from the local newspaper to the courtroom. Things change.

    1. The case is winnable. The only reason crook jenkins doesnt want to prosecute is because she got elected by conservative moderates who are pro police state. If she doesnt prosecute, they should get help from ca attorney general and the doj to prosecute. Police are not above the laws.