A memorial with candles and banners for Banko Brown.
Memorial for Banko Brown on Market Street. Photo by Robert B. Livingston

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When Terry and Barbara Brown walked out of a May 1 face-to-face meeting with District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, they were upset that charges would be dropped against the Walgreens security guard who shot dead their 24-year-old child, Banko Brown. But they say they were given every expectation the prosecutor would be piecing together evidence to make a case. 

“I asked, ‘What y’all doing?’” recalls Terry Brown. “And she said, ‘We had to drop the case; we didn’t have our evidence together. If we took him to court right now and didn’t have all our eggs in the basket, the jury would eat us up.’ … It ended with her saying, ‘I’m going to investigate. I’m going to consider what you’ve said.’” 

Theoretically, that could happen. But Jenkins, on that very day, inexplicably undercut any future case her office might bring against security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony. Jenkins’ subsequent press statement and media appearances didn’t impart the get-her-eggs-in-a-basket message she delivered to the grieving Brown family, and were not the measured comments that countless DAs have made when discussing a case they hope to possibly refile at a later date. 

Rather, she essentially went to the press to emphasize the weakness of her own case and exonerate the suspect, Anthony. 

“The evidence clearly shows that the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense,” read Jenkins’ statement. “We cannot bring forward charges when there is credible evidence of reasonable self-defense. Doing so would be unethical and create false hope for a successful prosecution.” 

One week later, with Brown’s supporters demonstrating in the streets, and the entire Board of Supervisors and Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) calling for Jenkins to turn over evidence in the shooting case, the DA insisted she may yet file charges. 

But she cannot unring this bell. I have talked to prosecutors. I have talked to judges. I have talked to public-relations professionals. None of them can begin to fathom why a prosecutor would needlessly and publicly dog her own case if she had any intention of charging it. 

At the same time, Jenkins has criticized the elected officials and members of the public asking her to disclose security footage and other evidence as jeopardizing an ongoing investigation. 

She’s the one jeopardizing the investigation,” responded a former prosecutor who served under former DA Kamala Harris. “I have no idea why she is talking about that stuff. Why make conclusive statements when the thing is still open? She’s limited herself, compromised herself. She could have had her press person say the case is still under review. What’s so hard about that?” 

For the Browns, who attended a rally for their son after meeting with Jenkins, the DA’s subsequent media comments hit like a gut punch. 

“She already had the plans,” says Barbara Brown. “She hoodwinked us.”

A Banko Brown supporter with a sign that says Banko
Britt Hartman, co-founder of the transgender navigation center, at A May 4 rally outside District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ office. Photo by Griffin Jones.

Jenkins’ office did not deign to counter claims made by Terry and Barbara Brown about what was discussed during their meeting. And the situation leading up to Banko Brown’s death that his father and stepmother say was described to them by the DA raises many questions. 

The video footage — which the Board of Supervisors could, this week, begin the process of obtaining via subpoena — apparently does not have any sound. Banko Brown was unarmed. But the Browns say they were told by Jenkins that the claim Banko threatened to stab Anthony came from Anthony. Banko Brown allegedly made the threat as he was pinned to the ground by the much larger guard, and in no position to act on it.  

Apart from this, there is also disagreement on what Brown told Anthony. The Browns say they were informed that another witness heard things differently; that Banko said something more akin to, “let me go, let’s fight, one-on-one.” This, Barbara Brown says, “sounds more like Banko.” 

But if the alleged threat Banko Brown made while he was pinned to the ground is the basis for, as Jenkins put it, Anthony believing he was “in mortal danger” and acting “in self-defense,” Barbara Brown is deeply confused. 

“If the guard felt his life was in danger, why would he allow Banko to get up, gather his items, and walk out of the store?” Barbara Brown asked. “If he was in fear, he would not have let Banko go. That is what has us so baffled. There was no weapon. There was no threat, if the gentleman allowed Banko to detach from him, gather his items and walk out of the store. Let’s make that make sense, because it clearly does not.” 

Jenkins, citing prosecutorial ethics, will not discuss the evidence publicly — other than flatly stating that it “clearly shows that the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense.” 

Self-defense, prosecutors will remind you, is “a complete defense.” It’s unclear what forthcoming evidence could possibly mitigate self-defense. 

And while legal scholars have postulated that the DA’s office could move to keep the DA’s own words, weighing in on the evidence and exonerating Anthony, from being heard by a jury, sharp-elbowed attorneys find ways to say what they want to say. And, it turns out, jurors find ways to hear what they want to hear. 

“Don’t think juries don’t Google case names before they walk in,” says a judge. “They’ve done it. To think you could undo [Jenkins’ statements] is absurd.” 

DA Brooke Jenkins
DA Brooke Jenkins on Election Day in November, 2022. Photo by David Mamaril Horowitz

On May 8, Jenkins sent a letter to Supervisor Shamann Walton, who had requested video and other evidence be made public and asked the DA to “reconsider and reevaluate” her decision to not file charges against Anthony. 

Regardless of one’s feelings about Walton or the nature of his request, this was the sort of inquiry that could’ve been parried and rendered yesterday’s news with a brief, diplomatic and forgettable note. 

It was not: Jenkins’ letter, responding to Walton, was needlessly and excruciatingly high-handed, and needlessly exacerbated and extended her problematic spell on the hot seat. And, to boot, it needlessly opened Jenkins up to stinging recriminations and revisitations of her prior dubious actions in ways that a more curt and professional reply would not have.

To wit, Jenkins’ criticism of Walton’s “interference in the judicial process” leads to the question of just what the hell Jenkins’ office would call her own behavior in earlier instances. What, for example, was the DA’s office doing when it in February publicized the letter it sent to the Attorney General’s Office regarding the decision to drop the case against Officer Christopher Samayoa? Any concerns the DA’s office had with the case could’ve been handled privately with the AG’s office, and the AG could’ve made a decision based upon how much credence it gave to those concerns and the merits of the case.

But in publicizing the letter, the DA’s office made this into a political matter and altered the AG’s calculus regarding whether to take on the case. In short: It interfered in the judicial process.  

And, in a scenario repeated this month with the Banko Brown situation, the DA gift-wrapped a reasonable-doubt argument to any future defense attorney in a potential prosecution. 

So, there’s that. We’re also left to wonder how, other than “interference in the judicial process,” Jenkins might describe her decision to email a colleague an unredacted rap sheet for Troy McAlister, the repeat offender who, in 2020, struck and killed two women while driving under the influence. 

Actually, there is a way to describe this behavior other than “interference:” In California, the furnishing of a rap sheet to someone who is not authorized to possess it is a crime.

You’re not going to believe this, but members of the Board of Supervisors reacted to Jenkins’ sermon on prosecutorial ethics about the same way they’d take to a lecture on healthy living from Pete Davidson. Her behavior has resulted in the impressive feat of uniting all 11 supes — and Wiener — in a position opposing her own. 

Jenkins’ handling of this case may yet work out — for somebody. But the same can never be said for the Browns. 

“She looked us in the eyes and said, ‘it’s not over. We’re going to investigate,’” recalled Terry Brown. “And then she said what she said in the media.” 

“I’ll never hear Banko saying Happy Mother’s Day. I can’t get a text saying, ‘Happy Mother’s Day,’” said Barbara Brown on the Friday before the holiday. “There’ll be no more texts asking no more questions.”

“What will transpire?” Barbara asks of the DA’s next move. “She’s not revealing much. So she should be doing much more later. This is not the end.”  

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. Maybe now San Francisco citizens can see Brooke Jenkins for who she has been all along. She talks out of both sides of her mouth but only does what the POA wants her to do.
    The POA does not care about all homicide victims. It matters not if shoplifters are needlessly shot & killed by hot-headed security guards (Banko Brown) or if robbers are needlessly shot & killed by frightened, bumbling, poorly trained cops (Keta O’Neill) or if an unarmed mentally ill person is needlessly shot by a temperamental cop (Sean Moore & Jamaica Hampton.)
    She easily lies to grieving family members of those killed by law enforcement because she lacks empathy for them.
    Jenkins refuses to let a San Francisco jury decide whether Mr. Anthony’s self-defense claim is reasonable under the law. (This is what she would do in any other killing not involving law enforcement.)
    Given the facts thus far (Banko Brown outside the store, unarmed and smaller then Anthony) a jury might find for manslaughter (unreasonable self-defense.)
    Jenkins has committed an error born of arrogance and ineptitude.
    Now, maybe San Franciscans will see the real Brooke Jenkins.

  2. I like this important piece but I paused: why the preface to Supervisor Shamann Walton’s letter: “Regardless of one’s feelings about Walton…” ?? That remark puts his credibility into question. I don’t see anything similar when you are referencing Supervisor Peskin.

    1. Gloria — 

      Ms. Jenkins did not write a dismissive and condescending letter to Supervisor Peskin.



  3. I don’t think you should charge the security guard. He was doing this job. He was threatened by Banko. If they charged the security guard, then crime would get worse and there would be no point in security guards trying to prevent any crime.

  4. You guys need to get rid of Brooke Jenkins are you going have more death at the hand of this DA. She said she was going to be tough on homelessness and crime and she is showing you guys how she plan to do it. Get rid of her NOW.

  5. To reply to The Truth is Out’s rhetorical question: “How is as pathetic, cold-hearted a person as Brooke Jenkins at the top of our city’s justice/defense system?”

    Because she was elected by her people, who are also pathetic and cold-hearted. They are also extremely wealthy, privileged, prejudiced, and connected in this city in ways you and I will never, ever be.

    Trust me, I know some of these people personally, and the way they exist in our city completely breaks my heart.

    1. She won by less than 56% of the vote. So, she was hanging by a thread to begin with. That was only 6 mos ago. Her public approval rating is extremely likely to be below 50% at this point

    1. No, and she will win re-election in a landslide next year. We’re over the “abolish police and let criminals run amok” nonsense from the idiot left.

      1. Thank you. agreed! We are going to swing hard the other way , people are sick and tired of slap on wrist bs.

      2. Oh yeah, she’s really tough on shoplifters and now people feel safe so much safer with the Brookester in command. Shoot first and ask questions later (or WTF, why bother with questions). I hate to say it Bill, but you sound the sensible right that condemns “rampant drugs and crime” in the killing of Bob Lee, but says nothing about the criminals as long as they are coke-headed tech boys.

  6. Jenkins is a liar! Not only about lying to the family that she dropped the case to get her evidence together… even her press statement is a lie! It wasn’t a clear act of self defense. My god. How is as pathetic, cold-hearted a person as Brooke Jenkins at the top of our city’s justice/defense system?

  7. “in publicizing the letter, the DA’s office made this into a political matter” Sorry to nitpick Joe, but prosecutions, particularly prosecutions such as this one, are always political matters and take place within a highly charged political climate. On top of that you have the political amateur hour with Breed and Jenkins which makes things much worse. Breed, and her tech boy right wing libertarian opposition, will be running a law-and-order campaign like this town has not seen since Frank Jordan, and Jenkins will be Exhibit A, more than happy to take center stage and characterize her actions (non-actions) as standing up to protect Walgreens and making downtown feel safe again to shoppers who fear young black males. Of course it’s political. Do you think Jenkins got to where she is because of her merit as an attorney or a legal scholar?

  8. When it comes to those Members of the City Family in Good Standing, all consideration should be afforded, while everyone else is subject to infinite accountability.

    Had a “progressive” or even a conservative like Hall or Jew conducted themselves like the corrupt London Breed, serially performing outrage and declaring another extraordinary step against chaos of their own making, further magnified by their comms ops, they’d have been whacked

    Breed and Jenkins are in this for the duration and there is nowhere near sufficient political power to do anything about it.

      1. The machine is only acting with impunity because there is no political power to stop them. When residents held power, the machine was constrained. All constraints are off until we organize to raise political power again. We will need to fight the tenacious nonprofits which run interference for the machine tooth and nail for that to happen.

        1. Walgreens was perpetuating the opoid crisis and successfully sued by the city, now Walgreens is getting away with a person being killed over cereal and candy. No one is safe shopping there.