This morning, some 30 protesters gathered outside the Hall of Justice to voice their anger after District Attorney Brooke Jenkins dropped homicide charges against San Francisco police officer Kenneth Cha last week.
“Say his name: Sean Moore!” the crowd chanted as speakers decried the decision, which was made more than a year and a half after charges were originally filed, and six years after Cha shot Moore on his front porch. Passing cars sporadically honked support.
“What is especially outrageous about Sean Moore’s death is that it was completely preventable and unnecessary,” said Yoel Haile, a director at the ACLU of Northern California. “Sean Moore is dead because the police were the first and only responders to a noise complaint, a mental health-related call.”
Several of the assembled activists characterized Moore’s death, and the subsequent lack of charges for the officer who shot him, as a pattern in which San Francisco police are not held accountable for violence. They mentioned the recent incidents in the Mission, where cops in riot gear broke up crowds on July 4, and during the Dolores Park hill bomb.
“After George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, it looked like something concrete might really happen, in terms of change,” said Reverend Arnold Townsend, vice president of the San Francisco branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “But now you’ve got people changing their mind, saying, ‘We want the cops back.’”
“They say Chesa Boudin’s experiment was a failure,” he added. “But their experiment has lasted 400 years, and y’all ain’t got it right yet. The only thing they’ve accomplished is putting Black people in jail.”
Kenneth Blackmon, Moore’s brother, said that the case had been unnecessarily drawn out. Moore was shot in 2017 and died in prison from complications related to the injury from the 2020 incident. Charges were filed against Cha by former District Attorney Chesa Boudin in 2021. But, after Boudin was recalled, the case was subject to multiple delays.
Last Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Derby Williams scheduled a preliminary hearing on the case for September, in what was seemingly a major step forward in the case. The next day, Williams called Blackmon to tell him that the case was actually being dropped.
“What I’m seeing now is a miscarriage of justice,” said Blackmon to the crowd, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the message, “Never Give Up.”
“They dragged this case on,” he said. “First, they waited out the recall. Then, they waited out the re-election, when [Jenkins] said she’s going to hold police accountable.”
Moore’s case was the third Boudin brought against a police officer for on-duty violence. All three cases have now been dismissed by Jenkins. In September 2021, Moore’s family received a $3.25 million settlement from the city as the result of a civil wrongful death suit, but the city did not admit any wrongdoing.
“The only thing that I can do, at this point, is write to the attorney general and ask them to investigate it,” said Rebecca Young. Young headed the case against Cha under former District Attorney Boudin, and now represents the Moore family privately.
“I’m, by nature, an extremely optimistic person,” said Young. “I continue to hold hope that they will do their job and do the right thing.” But she noted that a similar appeal to the attorney general in the case of Keita O’Neil, who was killed by rookie officer Christopher Samayoa in 2017, was recently unsuccessful.
Cha, who also shot and killed Nicholas Flusche in 2017, is still an officer with the San Francisco Police Department. He does not currently carry a firearm.
“I’m 80 years old,” said one protester writing “Jail Killer Cops” in chalk on the sidewalk. “Cops have been doing this all my life. This is nothing new.”