California AG is given 90 days to review ex-officer charges

A judge on Tuesday granted the attorney general’s request for another 90 days to review the case against a former San Francisco police officer, who was the first in the city to be charged with murder while on duty.

The state attorney’s request comes after San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced last month that she intended to drop the manslaughter charge against former prosecutor Christian Samayoa who, in 2017, accused Keita O’Neil, a suspected murderer. carjacking, fatally shot. Samayoa was on his fourth day of work when he fired a single shot at O’Neil as he fled on foot.

Chesa Boudin, Jenkins’ predecessor, charged Samayoa with manslaughter and other charges after he took office in 2020, calling his decision “historic.” Boudin was part of a politically progressive wave of prosecutors campaigning for restorative justice for mass incarceration. He was recalled from his position last year out of frustration and concern over the pandemic and viral images of Asian seniors being attacked in San Francisco.

Jenkins said in a letter to Attorney General Rob Bonta in February that she intended to drop charges against Samayoa because an investigation into Boudin’s handling of the case revealed internal conflict. She said the charges were filed just before the manslaughter statute of limitations was due to expire and that the warrant was signed by an investigator assigned to the case days earlier — while the longtime lead investigator was on vacation.

She asked Bonta to review the case according to the wishes of O’Neil’s family.

The judge’s decision postpones the dismissal of the case until June 5, when the parties will return to court, the attorney general’s office said.

O’Neil’s family has urged prosecutors to take over the case.

“I am ecstatic. This is a great day,” April Green, O’Neil’s aunt, said outside the courtroom on Tuesday about the judge’s decision.

O’Neil, who died in a hospital, was suspected of assaulting a California Lottery employee and stealing a van that belonged to the agency. Police said they chased the van and another SUV that drove it to a public housing area. O’Neil abandoned the stolen vehicle and ran to the patrol car that contained Samayoa, who was in the passenger seat, and his training officer.

Body camera footage shows Samayoa drawing his gun while the cruiser is still moving. The video then shows him opening the side door and firing a single shot through the window as O’Neil runs past in the opposite direction. O’Neil, who later died in a hospital, was not armed.

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