Police body camera shows Christopher Samayoa pointing gun
Body camera footage shows Officer Christopher Samayoa shoot Keita O'Neil, who was unarmed, in 2017.

The California attorney general declined to take over the homicide case against former San Francisco police officer Christopher Samayoa, who shot and killed fleeing carjacking suspect Keita O’Neil in 2017, Mission Local has learned. 

The case against Samayoa, as a result, was dismissed on Friday morning.

“They’re gonna start killing more of our people,” said an outraged April Green, O’Neil’s aunt, who was informed in a Thursday afternoon meeting with Attorney General Rob Bonta of his plan to decline the case. “I said: ‘When is someone in this office gonna have balls?’ I told him, ‘You don’t got balls.’” 

The AG’s office has been reviewing the historic case against Samayoa, which was brought in 2020 by former District Attorney Chesa Boudin before being dismissed earlier this year by his political rival and successor, Brooke Jenkins. 

Jenkins, who claimed the case was filed for political reasons, offered the case to the attorney general in February, claiming that she could not pursue it. 

“It is very obvious this man is weak,” said Green of Bonta on Thursday. “He’s justifying this murder just like everyone else, he is not standing by his own legislation.”

April Green, the aunt of slain Keita O’Neil, spoke in court on Friday about her disappointment with the Attorney General Rob Bonta, who declined to take over the prosecution of O’Neil’s killer. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

Bonta, who campaigned on holding police accountable and, as a state assemblymember, passed legislation requiring the state AG’s office review of all killings of unarmed civilians, issued a 21-page statement about its decision on Thursday. 

In the statement, Bonta outlined his reasons for not taking the case, including a simulation that Samayoa had done in during his training where a suspect jumped out of a van and ran toward him. In the simulation, Samayoa was shot, and therefore his belief that he needed to defend himself against O’Neil — who also jumped out of a van and began running — was reasonable, Bonta said.

Green’s attorney, Brian Ford, said the reasoning from Bonta’s office for refusing the case was weak, and that Bonta’s public stance about police accountability did not align with his actions. 

“They did not think that they could disprove Officer Samayoa’s claim of self-defense beyond reasonable doubt,” Ford said. “In their opinion, the 0.83 seconds between the time that O’Neil became visible and the time he was shot was enough time to perceive and react to whatever imagined threat there was.” 

O’Neil’s family was paid out a hefty settlement of $2.5 million by San Francisco, and Samayoa, who was only four days on the job at the time of the shooting, was terminated from the police department shortly thereafter.

Ford and Green worried that this will set the wrong precedent for San Francisco and contribute to vigilantism by law enforcement.

“I am distraught and devastated by this wrongheaded decision,” Ford said. “I mean, it’s a certification of vigilante justice in San Francisco.” 

Boudin, who initiated the case against Samayoa, said, “I’m disappointed but not surprised given how Jenkins’ public rhetoric sabotaged the ability of other agencies to prosecute this case.”

Judge Loretta M. Giorgi, after hearing from Green in court on Friday morning, accepted Jenkins’ dismissal of the case.

This is a developing story and may be updated.


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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. Beat up and injured the elderly lady driver. Carjacked the state’s Lottery van. Sped at high speed around city streets without a care for anyone else. Crashed into another car. Rammed a gate and crashed the van. Could have ran away from the cops but instead ran directly at their vehicle…… bad decisions add up. And this guy chose wrongly multiple times that day. Should he have died… probably not. But that’s not the legal question. The shooting was clearly justified. A wow man POC (Brooke Jenkins) said so. The state AG. A male POC said so. End of story.

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  2. Vigilantism only really arises when the government and legal authorities aren’t doing their jobs.

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  3. Brooke Jenkins is proven right once again. I’m so glad we have a competent DA now who is interested in public safety, rather than someone who just wants to prosecute cops.

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