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SF supervisor second-guesses DA on Walgreens shooting case

Attendees and organizers gather at a memorial for Banko Brown outside of a Downtown San Francisco Walgreens where a vigil was held for him on Monday. Brown, 24, was fatally shot by a security guard at the 825 Market St. location of Walgreens on Thursday. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard

The president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said Tuesday that District Attorney Brooke Jenkins should reconsider her decision to not press charges against a security guard who fatally shot an alleged shoplifter.

Board President Aaron Peskin said he would ask the supervisors to formally request that Jenkins revisit the decision, which she announced Monday as the security guard, Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, was released from jail. Jenkins said a review of the evidence suggested Anthony acted in self-defense.

Peskin’s comments came after two hours of public comment about the killing of Banko Brown, who died Thursday after the shooting at the Walgreens on Market Street near Fourth Street.

Speakers included Julia Arroyo, a director at the Young Women’s Freedom Center where Brown volunteered; Yulanda Williams, president of the Officers For Justice Peace Officers Association; labor activist Cheryl Thornton; African American Reparations Advisory Committee member Gloria Berry; and Entertainment Commissioner Steven Torres.

Aaron Peskin, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors | Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Speakers repeatedly expressed their anger over Brown being shot to death over an alleged shoplifting incident involving petty merchandise, and how it exemplified continuing issues with inequality and maltreatment of people of color. Brown was Black and transgender.

A source with knowledge of the case, who spoke with The Standard on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the details, said that Anthony questioned Brown, and an altercation ensued. Brown threatened to stab Anthony, who had pulled out his gun but had not yet pointed it, the source said. Anthony told Brown to leave the store. According to the source, that is when Brown approached Anthony, who fired his gun.

Several speakers at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting said Brown was unarmed. On Wednesday, Police Chief Bill Scott said there was no evidence that Brown was armed. Scott said Brown spat and raised one of his arms before being shot.

Some speakers at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting made unsubstantiated allegations about details of the case. For example, one speaker alleged that Anthony’s gun permit had expired; a check with the state Bureau of Security and Investigative Services indicated Anthony’s permit is current until May 31.

Attendees light candles in honor of shooting victim Banko Brown outside the San Francisco Walgreens where he was shot on Monday. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard

“This is not an anomaly,” said Torres. “Queer and Trans POC people are routinely harassed and targeted by hired security. I myself have been a recipient.”

“I am very disturbed today,” said Williams, a retired San Francisco police captain. “San Francisco is a sanctuary city for everyone who is not Black. The sanctity of life does not exist for Black people. We apparently don’t matter and are still just replaceable property.” 

After public comment, Peskin said he was familiar with the details of the case. He said that he was disturbed by Jenkins’ decision not to press “at least manslaughter charges” against Anthony.

“I am inclined to have this board, through formal action, ask the district attorney to reconsider and reexamine that decision that I was struck by,” he said.  “It is very rare that the legislative branch wades into individual decisions of the district attorney, but if you heard the details that I heard, at a minimum, this appears to be a manslaughter case to this non-attorney.”

On Monday, Jenkins said, “We reviewed witness statements, statements from the suspect and video footage of the incident, and it does not meet the people’s burden to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the suspect is guilty of a crime. The evidence clearly shows that the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense.”  

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with Police Chief Bill Scott’s comments about whether Brown was armed.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Yulanda Williams’ rank and status with the police department. 

Reporter Michael Barba contributed to this report.