The voluntary manslaughter case against a San Francisco police officer who shot an unarmed Black man on the victim’s doorstep was delayed once again in court on Friday.
The family of Sean Moore, whom Officer Kenneth Cha shot in 2017, has decried postponements in the long-running case. Moore died of his wounds three years after Cha shot him, according to the Marin County Coroner’s Office.
“I’ve been here for a year and six months, and I’ve only heard, ‘We have to get more evidence.’ I don’t know what other evidence they need,” said Cleo Moore, Sean Moore’s mother. “That officer, he is a killer.”
Cha’s defense attorney said he was not ready to set a date for a preliminary hearing in the case, which is now over a year and a half old, as he is continuing to receive more information from the District Attorney’s Office about “irregularities” in the prosecution process that could present “Brady issues.”
Prosecutors are required to turn over any evidence that could be favorable to the defense in what’s called a Brady disclosure. Brady is often material about past conduct by an officer, investigator or attorney that could impact the case.
Former District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed the original criminal charges against Cha before being recalled in 2022. Sana Sethi of the San Francisco Rising activist organization has accused Boudin's successor, Brooke Jenkins, of acting as an ally to Cha's defense team since taking office by failing to object to its delay tactics.
Jenkins has refused to meet with Cleo Moore, and the DA’s Office has stopped providing updates to her family, Moore said.
The District Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.
“It’s a slow train to dismissal,” said Rebecca Young, who was a prosecutor on the case under Boudin and has since left the DA’s Office and become Moore’s attorney.
Young said she is not aware of any improprieties in the way the case against Cha was handled. She suspects that Cha’s attorney is taking cues from Jenkins' handling of another San Francisco police officer who shot a man. Jenkins dropped the charges against San Francisco Police Officer Christopher Samayoa, who shot and killed Keita O’Neal from the passenger seat of his police car, in February, citing issues with the evidence and accusing Boudin of political motivations.
Jenkins filed a motion to dismiss charges against another San Francisco police officer on May 11. She said the previous administration failed to adequately present evidence favorable to Officer Christopher Flores, who shot a man in 2019, to the grand jury.
Sean Moore was having a mental health crisis at his home in 2017 when Cha and his partner, Colin Patino, arrived. Moore repeatedly cursed at police and ordered them to leave. Cha eventually pepper-sprayed Moore, Patino struck Moore with a baton, and Cha fired two shots.
The officers said they were injured, and Moore was charged with assaulting a police officer. Those charges were later dismissed, and an appeals court found that the officers violated the Fourth Amendment by refusing to leave Moore’s home.
After the hearing, Cleo Moore stood on the steps of the San Francisco Hall of Justice, flanked by the family of Angelo Quinto, who died after Antioch police officers restrained him in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Anti Police-Terror Project Policy Director James Burch drew parallels between the two men’s deaths, describing them both as “mental health murders.”
“We know what the Bay Area is doing about mental health is not working,” Burch said. “We need care, not a badge and a gun.”
Noah Baustin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org