Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, the 33-year-old Walgreens security guard who shot and killed Banko Brown on April 27 after what police described as a shoplifting incident, was himself cited for misdemeanor shoplifting in the past, according to court documents.
In 2014, Anthony was charged with two misdemeanors: Second-degree commercial burglary and petty theft, charges that signify shoplifting.
He was due in Contra Costa County court on July 20, 2015, for an arraignment, but did not show, and the court issued a bench warrant for his arrest three days later.
In 2018, that bench warrant was dismissed and the case was dropped.
The citation is from a single incident, and Anthony never pleaded guilty to any charges, nor was he convicted. He has had no other run-ins with the law.
It is unclear why the warrant was dismissed, but a criminal attorney practicing in California, asked by Mission Local to review Anthony’s record, said it is not uncommon for district attorneys to dismiss warrants. If sufficient time has passed since the initial complaint, for instance, or if the suspect has had no other run-ins with the law, the DA may decide to drop relatively minor charges.
Further details about the case were not immediately available at the Contra Costa Courthouse. The Contra Costa District Attorney’s office did not have records for the case, saying they had likely been purged from the system when the case was dismissed.
Reached by phone, Anthony declined to answer questions.
Anthony purportedly shot and killed Brown on Thursday, April 27, over an alleged shoplifting incident; Donald Washington, Jr., a self-described eyewitness to the shooting, who filmed its aftermath, said Brown had Cap’n Crunch cereal and other snacks in his bag.
Washington said that Anthony had already ejected Brown from the store before the shooting. The witness said that after the guard had thrown Brown out, he went back inside the store, muttered “Damn, hell nah, not today,” and then returned outside, subsequently fatally shooting Brown in the chest.
Anthony was released from custody last Monday after spending a weekend in jail. Police initially arrested him on suspicion of murder, but District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said on the day of his release that evidence showed Anthony “believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense.”
While Jenkins refuses to release the video, those familiar with its contents say it shows Brown spitting on Anthony and raising an arm at him before the shooting.
The DA’s office has confirmed that Brown was unarmed. The 24-year-old stood 5-foot-4 and weighed around 155 pounds, according to his family; Anthony is much larger; Washington pegs him at perhaps 6-foot-2.
Video of the incident has not been released, despite requests to the District Attorney’s Office from city supervisors, Brown’s family, and media outlets. Several city supervisors have co-sponsored a resolution asking for the DA to release video and other evidence, and state Sen. Scott Wiener yesterday joined calls for the video to be made public.
The shooting came two weeks after a security firm contracted to provide security services at several San Francisco Walgreens stores changed its policies to encourage guards to confront and arrest thieves, according to internal communiques reviewed by the San Francisco Standard.
That firm, Kingdom Group Protective Services, has banned its San Francisco guards from carrying sidearms after the shooting, according to security guards. Kingdom Group declined to answer questions. A Walgreens spokesperson said the store did not direct the security firm to disarm guards.
After video of a shoplifter on a bicycle went viral last year, sparking storylines of out-of-control crime in San Francisco, a Walgreens executive in January admitted on a shareholder earnings call that the store may have “cried too much” about retail theft, and that it may move away from the use of private security. Walgreens executives had previously cited shoplifting as motive for closing five stores in San Francisco, despite earlier signaling in federal filings that such closures were coming as a cost-cutting measure.
Additional reporting by Griffin Jones.