fence signs memorial
The tribute to Banko Brown outside Walgreens on Market Street was recreated after being taken down last week. Photo by Joe Rivano-Barros. Taken May 16, 2023.

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Security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony described to homicide detectives a life of housing instability, police run-ins and an unsupportive workplace in the years leading up to April 27, when he shot and killed Banko Brown. The homeless resident had allegedly shoplifted snacks from the Walgreens where Anthony worked.

“I’ve really been on my own since I was a young teenager,” Anthony says, sounding dazed, in a long interview transcript released Monday by the District Attorney’s Office. “Always moving, different places, different houses, different family, friends. My parents never really worked. I was the only one working. My stepdad — he was on drugs.”

When informed of Brown’s death, Anthony shakes his head and covers his face with his hands. “My God,” he moans. “This can’t be happening. I just threw my whole life away.” 

He breaks down and cries. “I never wanted to end no fucking life at all. I was hoping that [he’d] pull through.”

Notably, Anthony paints a picture of an employer that held him to muddled, inconsistent standards while expecting its guards to procure and maintain their own weapons, independent of much in the way of oversight.

The private security company Kingdom Group Protective Services employs Anthony, whose official job title is “robbery suppression officer.” Walgreens contracts with Kingdom Group.

The rules around how to handle shoplifters, says Anthony in the interview, are confusing, and change constantly. “First,” Anthony tells detectives, “it was a hands-off policy. Then [Kingdom] changed it to a hands-on policy. We can ask for receipts if we suspect someone steals something.”

“They kept on changing it back and forth. Now, if you suspect or if you’ve seen [shoplifting], then you can go that route. But if you haven’t seen anything, you can’t follow nobody.”

The guard, however, maintains that he was correct in his response.

“I feel like I wasn’t, you know, wrong,” he says about shooting Brown. “Because I don’t know what to expect [in that situation].”

On Monday, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins appeared to agree and declined to file charges against Anthony. At the same time, Brooke released the “Brown Declination Investigation,” a compilation of interviews, eyewitness accounts and video footage of Brown’s killing on April 27.

The declination investigation

Immediately following the shooting, Anthony gave two interviews to police officers and detectives, first immediately after the shooting in what appears to be the Walgreens staff room, and then, hours later, at the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St.

Refusing his right to counsel, Anthony speaks for hours about his life and the instant before the shooting. 

In the back room of Walgreens, Anthony says he has worked as a security guard for the last 15 years, since he was 18, and started carrying a gun on the job at 19. For a while, he was an armored truck driver, delivering bags of up to $600,000 to banks. “We’re risking our lives over somebody else’s money — that ain’t mine,” he tells Sergeant Mikayla Connell.

Anthony describes an unstable youth growing up in East Oakland. In 2014, Anthony was charged with two misdemeanor counts related to shoplifting, and was issued a bench warrant when he failed to show up at court. He was never convicted and never admitted guilt, and the case was dropped three years later. 

He says he recently separated from his wife and faced financial struggles, including having his car stolen a couple of months ago. At the start of his interview in the breakroom, he talks randomly about a series of bad breaks — not always coherently. After he talks of having to move from one apartment to another, he says, “Then I got caught up with the payments at the new place. And so things are going smoothly. And then I get my car stolen.”

His frustration with life and work becomes clear early on. “It’s like, we work hard as hell, and people just do whatever the hell they want to do on me,” he says. 

According to Anthony, all of his gear, from his guns and baton to his shoes, is bought and maintained himself. 

“A lot of the equipment we have, the clothes, everything, we invest for ourselves. They only provide a T-shirt.” The shirt is emblazoned with the Kingdom Group Protective Services logo and a lion, set inside a shield.

On the night of April 27, Anthony was armed with two guns: a .40-caliber Glock 22, and a .40-caliber Glock 27. His “primary” firearm, the 22, was what he used to shoot Brown. His secondary gun was in a concealed pouch, he says. However, Anthony’s concealed-carry license is still pending approval.

Anthony states that he is licensed to carry a firearm as a security guard, and that the company has no rule against carrying a second firearm, as he was doing the day of the fatal shooting. 

When asked if he carries “less-lethal equipment,” Anthony says no. In a rush to get to work on the day of the shooting, he had left his baton at home. Usually, he says, he’d be able to transport all his gear in his car, but his car had just been stolen.

Anthony tells detectives that he did not carry handcuffs, could not “invest” in a Taser, and that his pepper spray was confiscated three years ago in downtown Oakland by someone who thought he was impersonating a security guard. In those three years, Anthony never replaced the pepper spray.

He had, in the past, done his job without a sidearm: In 2022, Anthony was detained by police at a Halloween party, which he had attended straight from work, still in his security guard uniform. 

It being Halloween, Fremont police made the assumption that Anthony was impersonating a security guard. They confiscated his gun and, for the next several months, Anthony says he worked security at Walgreens secretly armed with a BB gun.

“I’m here working with a goddam BB gun,” Anthony told Sergeant Connell. “‘Cause, if I tell my job, they’re gonna be like, ‘You can’t work with us.’”

The day of the shooting

After Brown entered the store on April 27, Anthony states that he saw him going down the aisles and putting items in his bag. At the point where Brown attempts to walk past the registers and out the door of the store, he pushes into Anthony, who is blocking his path. 

“Did [he] punch you?” Ask the detectives. “I’m not sure if [he] did,” Anthony replies. “Did you punch [him]?” “No.” “Did you push [him]?” “No.”

Footage clearly shows Anthony punched Brown several times, moments after their initial physical contact. 

Anthony says Brown threatened multiple times to stab him — a statement that no witnesses could corroborate. “That really put fear in my heart,” Anthony tells detectives. He says the alleged threats didn’t come until he and Brown had already been wrestling on the floor — after he had overpowered Brown. 

During their wrestling, one witness, standing 25 feet away, stated she heard Brown saying, “let me go and I’ll fight you, one-on-one.” The witness did not hear any threats of stabbing.

In the video, Anthony lets Brown go from what he calls a “chokehold-type move,” and Brown proceeds to pick up his bag, leaving behind some of the contents that spilled onto the floor.

One of the police detectives asks: “If [he’s] saying, ‘I’m going to stab you,’ why’d you let [him] go? Did you think maybe that would give [him] the opportunity to stab you?” 

Anthony stumbles for a moment, then replies: “After [he] started talking about stabbing me. My whole thing was to create distance.”

In the Walgreens security camera footage released by the DA, Brown and Anthony appear to be only a few feet apart for their entire interaction after Anthony releases Brown from the chokehold. In the moment of release, Anthony grabs his Glock 22, pointing it downward.

As Brown is backing out of the store, Anthony continues to move toward him and keep pace, occasionally gesturing his gun in Brown’s direction, walking toward him as he exits. Brown’s body leans forward for a moment, when several witnesses describe him spitting at the guard.

Anthony says he felt the spit hit his face. “The shock from that made me draw,” he tells detectives. Banko “was outside the store,” says Anthony, “but when [he] started to advance back inside the store, that’s when I drew.”

But video shows Anthony already had his gun drawn at that point, with Brown making a slight motion towards Anthony in the second before the shooting while continuing to back out of the store.

Anthony, for his part, said he did not feel safer just because Brown stood eight inches shorter than him. He recalls a bystander telling him after the shooting, “you’re way bigger than [Banko].”. Brown stood at around 5-foot-4; Anthony is listed in the police report as 6 feet tall. He says to a sergeant: “I’m going off energy; I’m not going off size or whatever. That don’t mean nothing.”

Describing a Korean bodybuilding show he’s “hooked on,” Anthony, who appears to be wearing a bulletproof vest at the end of the body-worn camera footage, says it doesn’t matter what size someone is. “There’s abilities that other people have that you don’t.” 

By the end of the interviews, Anthony is distraught at the idea he has killed someone, expressing regret, and looks back over what he describes as a troubled life.

“My whole fucking life has been shitty, man,” Anthony tells detectives. “I went from homeless to finding a nice woman I wanted to marry — that didn’t work out.”

“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” he says.


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Reporter/Intern. Griffin Jones is a writer born and raised in San Francisco. She formerly worked at the SF Bay View and LA Review of Books.

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  1. If brown threatened to stab the guard while he was Man handling her and after she got up and walked away while walk toward danger if you feared for your life. The detectives said that witnesses said that brown didn’t threaten the guard but no matter how you look at this it wasn’t self defense!

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  2. Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony

    Your an Ex shoplifter yourself, Homelessness you experienced & black

    You should have pulled out $20 for Banko not a gun.

    You had a bullet proof vest and Two Guns!

    Never once grabbed the bag that the child was carrying?

    But ruffed and killed a Poor Black Person

    May Banko Haunt you and everyone of your Fans that thought justice was served

    There is a high Court and God is the Judge.

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  3. Adrenalized, in a fight-or-flight for your life situation you are definitely not able to rationally gauge your own safety and revert to animal instincts – especially if something hits your noggin.
    It’s a feeling most people luckily don’t ever experience! I’ve been the recipient of a serious curb-stomping or two and I will never own a gun.
    NOBODY wants to stay working in security. Going to work without one is unthinkable to me though because the “other team” certainly has them!

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  4. If you’ve ever had black friends from the poorer sections of the Oakland area or from our own concentration camps such as Sunnydale – Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony’s story is not unique. Thus is the fate of many men unlucky enough to be born “black”. Same applies to Banko Brown regardless of gender identification. Some make it thru the tribulations. Many don’t. And this cycle just keeps going and going and going …..

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  5. Whether or not Anthony should be charged with a crime should depend solely on whether he committed one, not on a sob-story of his sad background, etc., etc. Many people have tragic backgrounds, but when faced with a situation like this, not all pull out their gun and shoot.

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    1. What is the benefit to charging but not being able to convict?

      (“He threatened to stab me” – Banko then inflects – gun goes off; fairly convincing for Self Defense. So probably no conviction).
      With no conviction we get the slap of a charge, the roiling of the life of the shooter (swamped in his out guilt), but no “justice for Banko”. Is that really what we want? Performative Justice?!

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  6. He should be applauded for being a hard working man. I hope that he gets many opportunities in his journey ahead and stays honest. Good article.

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