San Francisco Community Protests after SF District Attorney Announces No Charges against Walgreens Security Guard for Killing Unarmed Banko Brown 

By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Davis Vanguard Sacramento Bureau

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Embattled San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins this week released official statements of explanation and sympathy—supported by a detailed online analysis, including a redacted police report, video, police interviews—to justify why she’s not filing charges against a Walgreens security officer who shot and killed unarmed, alleged shoplifter Banko Brown on April 27.

Apparently, many in the justice community—and local and state lawmakers – strongly disagree with Jenkins’ reasoning.

A diverse group of community leaders, democratic clubs, and prominent Black LGBT leaders promised to hold a rally outside Jenkins’ office Wednesday, “urging…the prosecution of Walgreens’ Security Guard” who shot and killed Brown.

Jenkins announced Monday she will not be filing charges against Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, a security guard at the Market Street store, who’s been accused of fatally shooting 24-year-old Brown during what police called a shoplifting incident.

The DA’s office released a comprehensive report on its website, including witness statements, a police interview with the security guard, redacted police report and surveillance video.

Jenkins posted a Twitter apology, of sorts, noting, “Banko Brown’s death has deeply impacted me & our city. I join his friends, family, & community in grieving him & searching for ways to address the systemic issues that led us to where we are today, with one young man Black man dead & another potentially looking at life in prison.”

A Twitter firestorm responded to Jenkins’ tweet, including one purportedly from a lawyer, who tweeted, “As a defense attorney, this is murder at the worst and manslaughter at the best. There was no reason to use deadly force. How can you say what a jury would do if you don’t prosecute? Your words are as hollow as your soul.”

The DA’s Office claims, “Based on the criminal investigation, review of evidence, and evaluation of the case, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to support the filing of criminal charges against the suspect in the Banko Brown death investigation.

“Because of the extraordinary public interest in this case, the District Attorney’s Office produced a declination report and is making publicly available evidence reviewed and analyzed in rendering this decision.  The scope of the report is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence supports criminal charges being brought against the suspect.”

The DA released the security guard’s police interview, where he said he felt his life was in danger, explaining, “The whole time we were wrestling, she’s saying she’s gonna stab me and that’s what really put the fear in my heart.

“She walked towards the door, but then she turned around and advanced back, turned towards me. That’s when I already had my weapon drawn and when she moved towards me, that’s when I fired one shot. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t feel like I was in danger. I felt like I was going to be stabbed … and I didn’t know what to expect after the hostility,” the guard added.

“At this time there is nothing to rebut his statements regarding the fact that he acted in self-defense,” said Jenkins. “It was our conclusion that we did not have such evidence and that is why we have arrived at this decision at this time.”

But, the justice community has refuted these comments and is asking California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and review the case of Banko Brown.  

 “I’ve repeatedly watched the video and reviewed the other released evidence, and I honestly cannot see a justification for this shooting. While shoplifting is a problem in San Francisco that needs to be addressed, shooting someone for shoplifting is truly horrific and must never be tolerated. I respect the criminal process in San Francisco, and I respect the District Attorney and the difficult choices she has to make every day. But a lack of any criminal responsibility for this shooting makes no sense to me,” said State Senator Scott Wiener (D-SF).

The state lawmaker added, “What makes this shooting particularly tragic is that it was preventable even before Banko Brown set foot in Walgreens. Nearly half of homeless youth are LGBTQ, and LGBTQ young people are also over-represented in the criminal justice system. Trans young people are even more disproportionately impacted. The horrific political attacks on trans young people around the country only make the problem worse.

“Banko Brown’s struggle with poverty and homelessness — and society’s treatment of people like him — increased the odds of an interaction like this one. I hope this horrific killing spurs more action to end youth homelessness and support our most at-risk youth.”

Geoffrea Morris, a prominent leader and organizer in San Francisco’s Black community, said, “It is imperative that the entire Black Community, our clergy, members of the LGBT community, and our neighborhood leaders come together and demand Justice for Banko Brown. In addition, we need our allies to be co-conspirators with us as we demand justice for Banko Brown.”

During an interview with police, Anthony said he held Brown in a “chokehold type” position so Brown wouldn’t harm him, because, Anthony said, he didn’t have any handcuffs or other way to restrain Brown. 

San Francisco NAACP Chapter President, Dr. Rev. Amos C. Brown, said, “The Executive Committee of NAACP met last night and reviewed video footage which suggested the security guard was aggressive and members felt justice has not been properly served,” adding the NAACP is seeking an outside probe “so that the African American citizens of San Francisco can be satisfied that justice is done.”

Legal analyst Steven Clark told KGO, “I think what is very problematic is the use of the choke hold, what appears to be done here by the security guard on Mr. Brown. That in itself can be deadly force and you’ve seen that time and time again in police use of force cases.

“And I think you’ll see here even if criminal charges are not filed, that you will see a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed against the security guard and Walgreens for this utilization of deadly force under these circumstances,” said Clark.

Jenkins asked people not to look exclusively at the video, but to consider all the evidence, noting, “And while I understand, as a resident, you would say, ‘Well just let the jury decide’…That is not the standard for charging we have to believe at the time that we charge a case that a jury of 12 will convict, not let’s just charge the case and see what happens.”

But, in an interview with KGO, San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin says he was troubled by the video, charging, “There’s distance between them, Banko Brown is unarmed, Banko Brown is outside of the store.”

Peskin added, “This is not who we are, stealing a bag of candy does not warrant death. I am personally asking both California’s attorney general as well as the U.S. Department of Justice to review the evidence in this case.” 

Supervisor Dean Preston wrote, “This is a horrible tragedy and I’m deeply concerned by the way the District Attorney has handled this case. Property should never be placed above human life and our laws should be crystal clear on that. Thank you to all of Banko’s family, loved ones, and community for continuing to fight for transparency and justice.”

Supervisor Walton reiterated his statement released yesterday, “Banko Brown was clearly walking backwards after being physically dominated by the security guard for several seconds.  Where is the perceived threat?” said Supervisor Shamann Walton. “If this executioner is not charged, every armed security guard will know Black and trans lives don’t matter, and it will be open season for these types of killings.”

Walton added, “DA Jenkins’ decision to not charge gives every armed security guard in San Francisco a license to have an open season to shoot and kill Black and transgender people for alleged shoplifting.”

Jenkins said she understands there may be an emotional reaction to what people see in the video. She also talked about how San Francisco as a city is going to have to talk more now about how it deters retail theft in an ongoing conversation.

But it appears the community wants to do more than talk.

Jeffrey Kwong, President, Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club said, “We are devastated by the tragic murder of Banko Brown, a beloved member of our LGBTQ+ community. The release of the footage has revealed a chilling act of violence committed against Banko by a heavily armed security guard. The queer community will not be silent in declaring our utter mistrust and complete disillusionment with the District Attorney Brooke Jenkins in the case of Banko Brown’s murder. 

“The District Attorney’s misleading statements and preemptive refusal to prosecute raise serious concerns about accountability and the pursuit of justice. The Milk Club and the LGBTQ community stands with Banko’s family and friends to demand a thorough investigation and fair legal proceedings. It is crucial that we stand together as a united front, supporting Banko’s family, friends, and supporters in their quest for answers and meaningful justice.” 

Celi Tamayo-Lee, SF Rising Co-Director, charged, “DA Jenkin’s refusal to charge Michael Anthony shows a pattern of extreme disregard for Black victims of violence. The DA ran on a platform of victims’ rights — why don’t victims of police and vigilante violence deserve justice?”

“Banko Brown’s life was more important than any bag of candy or property. (We are) appalled at the blatant disregard for justice that the first Latina District Attorney, Brooke Jenkins, continually displays at the cost of our larger communities’ true safety. Banko Brown’s murder is another example of Jenkin’s focus on protecting property over people” said Kevin Ortiz and Deldelp Medina, Co-Presidents, San Francisco Latinx Democratic Club.

Honey Mahogany, Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, stated “What we are talking about today is the value of a human life and whose life matters. We are demanding equity and justice for all people here in San Francisco, and when someone’s life is needlessly and carelessly ended, we demand accountability.” 

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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1 Comment

  1. Keith Olsen

    “And I think you’ll see here even if criminal charges are not filed, that you will see a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed against the security guard and Walgreens for this utilization of deadly force under these circumstances,” said Clark.

    Why there are still any retail businesses trying to stay open in San Francisco is surprising.

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