Demonstrators Demand State Take Up Keita O’Neil Murder Case Forward of Tuesday Deadline

Video footage shows Samayoa, who was on his fourth day of a field training program, shooting dead O’Neil during a police chase in December 2017 after O’Neil allegedly stole a California Lottery van.

Samayoa is shown firing his gun through a squad car window, hitting O’Neil, a 42-year-old black man, as he attempts to flee on foot. Samayoa was then released.

Boudin, who was recalled from office last summer, charged Samayoa with multiple counts of manslaughter and assault, marking the first murder charge in San Francisco history against a police officer for an on-duty murder.

Jenkins, however, chose to dismiss the case, arguing in a Feb. 8 letter to Bonta that Boudin erroneously pursued manslaughter charges against Samayoa for “political reasons and not in the interests of justice.”

Cleo Moore, whose son Sean Moore was shot dead by San Francisco police in 2017, attends a rally in support of the family of Keita O’Neil and her own son March 6 in front of the California Supreme Court building in San Francisco , 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Jenkins also said her office had “discovered an internal conflict in the case that is affecting our ability to handle the matter,” citing conflicting statements from the attorney in Boudin’s office who originally handled the case and of the DA investigator who signed the warrant.

In a Feb. 28 letter, Bonta’s office disagreed that there was a conflict preventing Jenkins from taking the case under her jurisdiction.

Prosecuting Samayoa would be a historic step for Bonta, who promised when he took office to increase police accountability.

“We need to restore trust between law enforcement and communities. And I believe that law enforcement is an invaluable part of our communities and that the vast majority want to build and earn that trust,” Bonta said at his inauguration ceremony in 2021. “Accountability is part of that trust.”

A younger African American woman with shoulder-length black hair and a white blouse under a black cardigan speaks into a handheld microphone and stands behind a large black banner that reads: Kaylah Williams May speaks on the steps of the California Supreme Court building March 6, 2023 in San Francisco. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

KQED’s Sara Hossaini and Beth LaBerge contributed to this story.

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