Skip to main content

Walgreens killing: What witnesses to Banko Brown’s death saw and heard

Pedestrians pass a memorial for Banko Brown on the sidewalk and along a chain-link fence outside a Walgreens at 825 Market St. in San Francisco on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Banko Brown was shot and killed by an armed Walgreens security guard on April 27, 2023. | RJ Mickelson/The Standard

Walgreens security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony told police that Banko Brown threatened to stab him before he shot and killed Brown. While no witnesses interviewed by police heard Brown say anything to that effect during the fatal altercation that unfolded on April 27 over what appeared to be five pieces of candy, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said understanding Anthony’s state of mind at the time was crucial to understanding the case.

These and other new details of the moments directly before and after Brown was shot were revealed Monday in police reports and video released by DA Brooke Jenkins amid public calls for more transparency around her decision not to press charges against Anthony.  

The video footage appears to show the 24-year-old Brown walking with a bag toward the store’s exit when Anthony, 33, confronts him at the door and a violent encounter ensues. Anthony seems to punch Brown and put him in a headlock as the pair wrestle to the ground. The two then part, and Brown leaves the store but turns back, at which point Anthony shoots him. Anthony told police that at some point during their scuffle, Brown threatened to stab him. Brown was later found to be unarmed. There is no audio in the security camera footage.

After releasing the video, Jenkins cautioned the public and press not to use it as their sole source for understanding the fatal incident, describing the statements of witnesses and Anthony as the “most critical part” of her office’s decision to dismiss the charges.

While no witnesses said they heard Brown threaten to stab Anthony, Jenkins said, none of their statements contradicted what he told police.  

The DA’s investigator on the case came to the same conclusion, saying in his report that, “If one only watches the video in a vacuum, you don’t have full context of the circumstances and state of mind of the suspect.” 

A screen shot of the video interview of Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony by police the day after he shot and killed Banko Brown | Courtesy the San Francisco District Attorney's Office

The majority of the six witnesses interviewed—whose names were redacted in police reports—saw a fight at the door. Two witnesses said they saw Brown lunge toward Anthony before he shot Brown; two others said they saw Brown spit at Anthony. Another said Brown made a fighting stance before Anthony fired. 

One witness said it appeared like the two had had interactions in the past. 

Yet another witness to the shooting said she was standing in line when she heard a commotion. She saw the pair fighting and Anthony holding Brown.

“Let me go, and I’ll fight you one on one,” the witness said she heard Brown say to Anthony. 

“I’ll let you go if you calm the fuck down,” the witness said they heard Anthony reply.

Once Anthony let go, Brown appeared “more agitated,” the witness said. 

The witness then said Anthony pulled his gun and said, “Don’t do it, step back,” and then the witness heard a shot. 

A still image pulled from surveillance footage shows a security guard putting Banko Brown in a headlock near the doorway at Walgreens at 825 Market St. in San Francisco. | Courtesy San Francisco District Attorney’s Office

“Dammit, someone call 911,” the same witness said Anthony yelled after he shot Brown. 

After Brown had been shot, a witness said they heard Brown say, “Sorry, man, that shouldn’t have happened. I was stupid.” It was unclear who Brown was addressing. 

Almost as soon as he fired the fatal shot, Anthony put his gun back in its holster and approached Brown, said several witnesses. Anthony then tried to use gauze to staunch the bleeding before walking back into the store. 

When police arrived at the scene, they took Anthony’s gun and detained him.
Anthony stated he thought he was potentially in a life-and-death situation because Lasheabrown [the name used by police to identify Brown] had been aggressive, and Anthony did not know what Lasheabrown was going to do next,” the officer who detained Anthony said.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at

Filed Under