The City Prosecutor’ Lesser-Degree Charges Mark as a First for SF’s Modern Legal History

On Monday, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin declared that he filed homicide charges against the cop who shot 42-year-old Keita O’Neil to death during a chase in 2017. The breaking news makes its mark on San Francisco’s modern history, witnessing a municipality’s top district attorney filing impeachment against a law enforcer who murdered in a coercion incident.

The previously mentioned case serves as an obstacle for the progressive city prosecutor to overcome. Moreover, the Bay Area marks the legal decision as to its third occurrence, so it is no surprise that an event like this happens in San Francisco’s lawful court. A year ago, Boudin won an intense election due to both his promotion of strict implementations of ordinances and compassionate sentences for the accused. Before he became the district attorney, Boudin worked previously as a public defender.

The involved police officer, Christopher Samayoa, shot Keita O’Neil during the chase case in 2017. Samayoa graduated from the police academy in the same year and was a San Francisco Police Department Officer during the time. Months after his graduation, Samayoa took part in pursuing O’Neil on December 1, 2017, ultimately leading him to shoot the former to his death. 

Boudin’s Thoughts on the Case and Equal Law Enforcement

During his interview on Saturday, Boudin asserted that he is confident in filing homicide charges against the police officer who shot O’Neil because of the evidence they have at their disposal. According to him, they can convince the judges that O’Neil’s shooting incident is indeed an indictable action to take away one’s life without justified reasons. Boudin also added that he stands by the equal implementation of the law and excuses no one, regardless of skin color, occupation, and social status.

Despite Boudin’s uptight pledge not to excuse legal police officers under the promotion of equal law enforcement, he still considers not overcharging cops for their accountability towards committing a violation.

Many predicted Boudin to press second-degree homicide charges against Samayoa, which require attorneys to convince the jury that he latter intended to murder and carry out harsher punishments. However, Boudin chose to indict Samayoa with lesser manslaughter impeachment instead. The reason behind his ruling focuses on Boudin’s priority of advocating equal compassion and force against people who violate the city’s laws and regulations.

Boudin’s office would offer the judges an option between impeaching Samayoa of voluntary or involuntary murder, or he acted lawfully but with criminal misconduct in the court hearing. The first choice provides that Samayoa fired his gun as an act of self-defense in the situation, while the second disregarded O’Neil’s safety and life during the incident.

Other Filed Charges and the O’Neil Incident Summary

Moreover, Samayoa received three additional felony charges from Boudin. The crimes filed against Samayoa are as follows: unlawful assault by a police officer, assault with a firearm, and reckless discharge of a lethal weapon. According to Boudin, filing the previously mentioned charges would reach their three-year statutory limitations on December 1 of this year, so he prioritized them instead of using-of-force litigation. On Monday morning, Boudin issued Samayoa’s arrest warrant. On the same day, the San Francisco Police Officers Association’s representative is unavailable for comment on the situation.

The O’Neil shooting incident caused a riot in San Francisco and ended in a chaotic chase. The event began when O’Neil snatched a Potrero Hill state lottery worker’s car keys, pushed her off, and drove away with her white minivan. At Bayview’s Highway 101, police tried to stop the van and chased it in a public housing compound, where O’Neil escaped by running out of the vehicle. He bumped into a patrol cruiser driven by a field training officer, Edric Talusan. Samayoa sat at the passenger seat, opened his side door, and shot O’Neil in the head, instantly killing him. According to police accounts of the incident, O’Neil did not carry any firearm with him when the chase occurred.

Following the 2017 incidents, the Samayoa received his official dismissal from the San Francisco Police Department in March 2018. According to department spokesman Michael Andraychak via email, an internal affairs inspection is still open.