District Attorney Brooke Jenkins released video footage Monday of the fatal shooting of Banko Brown and reaffirmed her decision not to charge the security guard who killed the man last month at a Downtown San Francisco Walgreens.
The District Attorney’s Office released four videos related to the April 27 incident, including footage from a security camera that captured the deadly encounter at the drugstore.
The video appears to show the 24-year-old Brown walking with a bag in hand toward the store’s exit when security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, 33, confronts him. Anthony cuts Brown off at the door and a violent encounter ensues.
Anthony begins punching Brown and wrestling with him as well as putting him in a headlock. The two break free on the ground, and Brown picks up the bag before exiting the store and turning back to the security guard.
Anthony alleges Brown spit on him and threatened to stab him. Video shows the security guard opening fire and Brown falling to the ground.
Brown was later found to be unarmed.
The killing spurred protests and calls for the release of the video footage, with some saying the shooting showed how people of color often face an excessive use of force for petty crimes. Anthony is Black, as was Brown.
In a report on the decision to not file charges Monday, the DA's Office said that because the incident occurred "during the course and scope of a robbery, the law presumes that it is reasonable for Anthony to be in fear of great bodily injury or death."
Jenkins held a news conference Monday and said the overwhelming amount of public interest and “politics being played by other city leaders” motivated her to release the videos Monday.
“This is a tough job,” Jenkins said, adding that there are understandable emotions of anger and grief with any shooting, but it is her job to make sure charging decisions are not influenced by those emotions.
However, multiple city supervisors told The Standard that Jenkins grossly misjudged the footage and they are calling for outside reviews of the fatal shooting.
Aaron Peskin, president of the Board of Supervisors, called on California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the U.S. Department of Justice to each take a look at the case in light of the video and charging decision.
"I will introduce legislation tomorrow asking the Board of Supervisors to do the same," Peskin said in a statement. "This is not who we are. Stealing a bag of candy does not warrant the death penalty.
"I understand people are afraid of crime, a fear being stoked by too many politicians and their political allies," he continued. "But this is not a choice between justice and safety—we can have both. And allowing what appears, at a minimum, to be an unjustified shooting does not make us safer. It does not make us better. It should make us ashamed."
Supervisors Shamann Walton, Hillary Ronen and Connie Chan told The Standard that they would support the legislation.
"Clearly, to me, Banko Brown did not deserve to die," Chan said.
Walton said it was clear to him from the video that Anthony had the "upper hand" in the altercation the entire time.
"I 100% feel that this shooting was unjust," Walton said, calling the killing an "execution."
Supervisor Matt Dorsey, whose district includes the Walgreens, said on Twitter he was "disinclined to speculate on decisions that prosecutors, plaintiffs’ counsel and others are more qualified than I to make."
"While I know today’s outcome doesn’t feel like justice to many who knew and loved Banko Brown," he added, "I pray that time and God’s loving grace can heal the trauma of this tragedy for all who’ve been touched by it."
The DA's Office said Brown was attempting to shoplift, and Anthony told investigators that his partner normally would have been around to help him deal with a shoplifter, but he was on break. Anthony described the items Brown, a transgender man, was trying to take from the store as "some beverages and a few snacks. It wasn't nothing, you know, … worth fighting for."
In statements made before Brown's gender identity was known, Anthony told investigators that he advised Brown to calm down before letting go during their scuffle.
"And so, um I repeated it to her … once I let go," Anthony said. "I stood back because the whole time we were wrestling she's saying she's gonna stab me and that's what really put the fear in my heart."
In an interview with police, Anthony was asked if he meant to pull the trigger.
"Definitely," he said. "It was definitely for defense reasons … not an accident. As much as I didn't want to pull the trigger."
Anthony went on to express remorse for shooting Brown, according to the DA's report. After he shot Brown, Anthony said, Brown started apologizing.
"I'm feeling like super bad. I’m really feeling bad," Anthony said. "I'm like, 'Oh my God, I hope she's OK.' You know, I really hope she's pulling through. I didn't want to end no life. It's not my intention. I just wanted to stop the threat."
Anthony was booked on suspicion of murder the day after the shooting but was later released. Jenkins noted that “the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense.”
The guard said Brown "looked like she was getting ready to leave, but then she turned back around and advanced toward me. And I didn't know what she was planning on doing, but, uh … turns out her intention was to … try to spit at me and by that reaction by her turning around and advancing towards me … that's when I lifted it [motions with hands] and then shot once. ... And that's basically what happened."
Another video from outside the store shows two people attending to Brown lying prone on his back.
Anthony told police that shoplifting incidents "happen all the time. … You know, people steal. I don't ever pursue ‘em like this only if … this would got physical … just like it did today. Normally, I'm like, ‘Hey, it's not my personal items.'"
Lateefah Simon, a BART Board director and candidate to replace Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) in Congress, knew Brown from her past work as the executive director of the Young Women's Freedom Center, where Brown was a volunteer activist.
Simon said she was initially at a loss for words after watching the video.
"I saw Banko leaving, and he could have left and survived," Simon said. "Instead, he is dead."
Simon said she was more concerned about the killing and its impact on the community than Jenkins' charging decision. She noted that Anthony also has to live with what happened for the rest of his life.
"A charge or no charge," Simon said, "that’s not going to bring back Banko."
Walton said he was concerned that DA Jenkins' decision not to charge Anthony gives security guards in San Francisco a "license" to shoot and kill Black people and transgender people.
"If this person is not charged," Walton said, "this will give every security guard [the message] that they can have open season on Black people for alleged shoplifting."
John Burris, an attorney for the Brown family, said the video shows Anthony was the aggressor and there was no justification for him to use deadly force.
"You don't shoot people over a violation of petty theft," Burris said. "You let them go. You don’t continue to fight them."