District Attorney Brooke Jenkins released video footage Monday of the fatal shooting of Banko Brown, reaffirming her decision not to charge the security guard who shot Brown at a Downtown San Francisco Walgreens in late April.
Community members gathered Monday afternoon at the Walgreens at Market and Fourth streets where Brown was fatally shot, rallying against Jenkins’ decision to not file charges.
Activists, politicians and others who reviewed footage of Brown’s death say the video proves Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, the private security guard, did not act in self-defense—contrary to the district attorney’s decision.
Protesters demanded that DA Jenkins press charges against Anthony and that security guards should not legally be allowed to carry firearms.
"I was sad, but now I'm mad. I'm so mad," said Tumani Drew, a friend of Brown's who says she worked with him at a San Francisco women's center. "He was on the way to the center the day he died. All we know is that Banko was leaving the store. Anthony had no right to take his life."
Tory Sprague, who described herself as a sort of family member of Brown's, called for DA Jenkins to resign, saying the tape proves Brown was no threat to the security guard. Protesters then began marching along Market Street.
“I think that the video confirms what the community expected all along, which is that this was a completely unjustified killing of our community member, Banko Brown,” said Honey Mahogany, San Francisco's Democratic County Central Committee chair and a local transgender activist.
Brown’s killing attracted intense local and national scrutiny, in part because the 24-year-old was shot after an alleged shoplifting altercation involving a few pieces of candy.
But Brown was also a Black and transgender man as well as an unhoused San Franciscan involved in a local mutual-aid organization. Though the security guard, Anthony, was also a Black man, some say Brown’s killing is nevertheless representative of the disproportionate violence faced by LGBTQ+ people and communities of color in America.
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.”
Witnesses and Anthony provided different accounts of the altercation, but Jenkins defended her decision, cautioning the public and press not to use the released video as their sole source for understanding the fatal incident.
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."
The Party for Socialism and Liberation hosted the protest at Walgreens Monday evening.
"DA Brooke Jenkins has dropped all charges against the killer of Banko Brown on bogus claims of self-defense," an email from the protest organizers said. "We saw the video, that’s a lie! The footage she released shows a lethally armed Walgreens security guard shooting Banko as he was leaving the store."
Community Leaders React
A growing number of San Francisco supervisors are calling for state and federal authorities to review the case revolving around Brown’s death, after Jenkins’ office released footage Monday.
And local community members are worried that the district attorney’s decision will set a dangerous precedent for police officers’ and security guards’ use of force.
“If [the security guard] is allowed to go free after shooting someone for spitting at him, what kind of message does that send to the general public?” Mahogany said. “When we talk about the Black Lives Matter movement and the work that has happened over the past few years to seek justice and accountability, it seems like we’re taking a step backward.”
Lateefah Simon, a BART Board director and candidate to replace Rep. Barbara Lee 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, who said she was “at a loss for words” after watching the video, says she is more concerned about the killing and its impacts on the community than the charging decision by Jenkins. Anthony, Simon said, still has to live with what happened for the rest of his life.
"A charge or no charge, that’s not going to bring back Banko," Simon said.
Liz Lindqwister can be reached at [email protected]