A growing number of San Francisco supervisors are calling for state and federal authorities to review the case revolving around the killing of Banko Brown by a security guard after the District Attorney’s Office released video footage on Monday showing the moments leading up to his death at a Downtown Walgreens.
“After reviewing the video footage of the shooting of Banko Brown, I am personally asking both California's Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice to review the evidence in this case,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said in an emailed statement early Monday afternoon. “I will introduce legislation tomorrow asking the Board of Supervisors to do the same.”
Supervisors Shamann Walton, Hillary Ronen and Connie Chan also said they would support the legislation.
At a press conference Monday during which San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins reaffirmed her initial decision not to charge Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, the security guard who killed Brown last month, the DA said she hopes everyone “does more than simply look at the video,” noting that witness statements and Anthony’s testimony contributed to her office’s decision.
WARNING: The content of the video is disturbing, and viewer discretion is strongly advised.
“This is a tough job,” Jenkins said at the press conference, adding that though shootings or killings raise “understandable emotions and grief,” it would not influence her office’s decision.
“This is not who we are. Stealing a bag of candy does not warrant the death penalty,” Peskin said. “I understand people are afraid of crime, a fear being stoked by too many politicians and their political allies. But this is not a choice between justice and safety—we can have both.”
Other San Francisco supervisors echoed Peskin's concerns about Jenkins’ decision, questioning the guard’s self-defense claims. Brown was not armed, though Anthony told police that Brown repeatedly threatened to stab him.
Walton said he viewed the security footage and said that Anthony had the "upper hand" in the altercation the whole time. He said the video did not appear to show the perceived threat to the security guard.
"I 100% feel that this shooting was unjust," Walton said, describing it as an "execution." Walton said he was concerned that Jenkins not charging Anthony gives security guards a "license" to shoot and kill other Black and transgender people like Brown.
District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston also weighed in. “I am horrified by this video which appears to show Banko Brown being executed for shoplifting,” said Preston. “I do not understand how the district attorney could have reviewed this video and concluded that the guard ‘believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self defense.’”
Numerous protests unfolded throughout San Francisco in the days after Brown’s April death, as community members, politicians and activists demanded more information surrounding the Walgreens altercation.
Ronen also supports state and federal prosecutors taking a look at the case. She thought Anthony would have a hard time proving self-defense if the prosecutors charged the case based on the video showing he overpowered Brown.
“It makes me question the DA’s judgment even more than prior to seeing it,” Ronen said.
Matt Dorsey, the supervisor whose district includes the Walgreens, took a more neutral stance.
"While it appears criminal charges won't be forthcoming here, civil causes of action may still arise from this tragedy that juries may consider. So, I’m disinclined to speculate on decisions that prosecutors, plaintiffs’ counsel and others are more qualified than I to make," Dorsey said on Twitter. "While I know today’s outcome doesn’t feel like justice to many who knew and loved Banko Brown, I pray that time and God’s loving grace can heal the trauma of this tragedy for all who’ve been touched by it."
John Burris, an attorney for Brown's family, said there was no justification for deadly force by the security guard.
“I don’t know why the officer shot him, and I don’t see any facts that would support it,” Burris said in a phone call Monday afternoon. “At the end of the day, we don’t have any evidence that he was armed. You can’t use greater force than you are actually being confronted with.”
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said that Peskin's statement was obtained via phone; it was sent in an email.