On Thursday, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins dismissed all charges against SFPD Officer Christopher Flores, who shot burglary suspect Jamaica Hampton during a foot chase in the Mission in 2019 — after Hampton had already been shot twice by another officer and was crawling on the ground.
Jenkins today stated that she cannot “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Flores did not act in reasonable self-defense.” She said that the grand jury which indicted Flores in 2020, on charges of negligent discharge of a firearm and assault with a firearm, had not seen two exculpatory witness statements — and said the charges filed by her predecessor, Chesa Boudin, were filed for “political gain.”
“The probable cause standard for the indictment was only met because exculpatory evidence was not adequately presented to the grand jury by the previous administration,” her statement reads.
Body camera footage shows that on Dec. 7, 2019, Hampton attacked two police officers with a glass Grey Goose vodka bottle, causing Flores to bleed from his head. As Flores and Officer Sterling Hayes attempted to apprehend Hampton, Hampton ran off.
Hampton weaved between parked cars on 23rd Street before eventually running back in the direction of officer Hayes, who had anticipated Hampton’s move and headed him off. Hayes fired at Hampton multiple times, striking him twice and causing him to fall to the ground and drop his bottle.
Surveillance footage then shows Flores, pistol drawn, approaching to within roughly five yards of Hampton. Flores shoots the suspect once while Hampton was staggering and crawling on the ground. After Flores fired a single shot, Hayes repeatedly yells “Stop, stop, stop!”
The motion to dismiss the charges, despite the indictment by a grand jury, rests on two witness statements of the seven included in the filing testimony, which were not presented to jury members.
One witness said he believed that the officers shot for “officer safety,” and that he too “would have shot [Hampton].” Another described Hampton as “very violent toward the officer.”
A third witness, however, said that the shot taken by Flores “bothered him,” because Hampton was “already down on the ground.”
The filing also dismisses the fact that Hayes, Flores’ training officer, had turned his back on Hampton after shooting him.
“The fact that Hayes turned his back on Hampton and no longer viewed Hampton as a threat does not impair Flores’s ability or right to exercise self-defense because his perception (what he saw) was different than that of Hayes,” the filing reads.
The filing attempts to justify how Flores could have perceived life-threatening danger from an unarmed man yards away, who was on the ground and had just been shot twice. The filing cites that Flores may have believed Hampton was “standing up” because he had “degraded visual acuity, mental perception, and stress” from having been struck on the head.
This dismissal comes on the heels of Jenkins facing criticism for her decision to dismiss charges against Michael Earl-Gray Anthony, the Walgreens security guard who fatally shot Banko Brown last month.
Jenkins dismissed those charges under a code allowing her to re-file at a later date — but made definitive statements that the evidence she reviewed revealed Anthony “believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense,” which compromised any future prosecution.
Police and the Jenkins have confirmed that Brown was unarmed. Neither the police nor the Jenkins will release surveillance footage of the shooting.
In February, Jenkins dismissed charges against Officer Christopher Samayoa, who shot dead carjacking suspect Keita O’Neil in 2017. In March, the DA’s office pulled medical records for Sean Moore, who in 2020 died of wounds sustained during a 2017 police shooting. This led to concern among Moore’s survivors that the DA was fishing for a rationale to drop charges against Officer Kenneth Cha, who shot Moore.