The long-running case of a San Francisco police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter for shooting a man on his own doorstep six years ago has been continued once again, leading to cries of injustice from the victim’s family.
At Friday's hearing, the judge granted the defense attorney another month to review documents, a move that was met by a stinging rebuke from the victim’s mother.
“It’s always, ‘I need more time. I need to do more research,’” Cleo Moore told the judge Friday. “I have been sitting in this courtroom for almost three years, and nothing has happened.”
The case centers on the shooting of Sean Moore by a police officer in 2017. Moore was shot outside his front door by Officer Kenneth Cha but did not die of the injuries from the shooting until three years later.
The incident marked the first time in San Francisco that a police shooting was captured by a body-worn camera. Later that year, Cha shot and killed a knife-wielding man at a Subway restaurant on Market Street.
Moore, who suffered from mental health issues that may have played a part in his interaction with Cha, died in 2020 while serving time in San Quentin State Prison for an unrelated incident. Cha was charged with voluntary manslaughter in 2021 by then-District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
In July 2022, the case was taken over by a new assistant district attorney after Brooke Jenkins was appointed DA following Boudin’s recall. Several delays in the case then followed.
Cha is one of three officers whom Boudin had charged in use-of-force incidents. Jenkins has already dismissed one of those cases, and some former prosecutors worry that she may do the same with the others.
Rebecca Young, the Moore family’s attorney and a former prosecutor in the DA’s police misconduct unit, said she initially expected the DA to dismiss the case, but now believes Jenkins wants to avoid dismissing another case involving a police shooting.
Young said she believes the defense attorney will argue that the wounds inflicted on Moore in the shooting were not the cause of his death.
Prosecutor Darby Williams, who did not oppose the request for time, apologized to Moore’s mother after court, saying that she has only had the case for eight months and that she will do all she can to work on it.
“I understand your frustration,” Williams said.
Judge Loretta Giorgi expressed her frustration over the delays and told both attorneys that when they return to court on May 26, she will set a date for the preliminary hearing.
Meanwhile, Cha remains employed by the San Francisco Police Department.
In February, the DA’s office dismissed manslaughter charges against Christopher Samayoa, who shot and killed Keita O’Neil in 2017 after a car theft led to a police chase.
The only other police use-of-force case remaining from the Boudin era is that of Christopher Flores, who shot Jamaica Hampton in 2020 after Hampton allegedly attacked him and his partner with a bottle in the Mission. Hampton was seriously injured and then charged with assaulting both officers.
The prosecution and defense attended court in the Flores matter last week but asked the judge for a continuance until May 4, even though a trial date has been set for May 19.
Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org