A San Francisco police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter for shooting a mentally ill and unarmed man in the city’s Oceanview neighborhood in 2017, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Tuesday.
Officer Kenneth Cha faces the manslaughter count as well as an assault with a deadly weapon charge and enhancements for the shooting of Sean Moore on Jan. 6, 2017. Moore ended up dying in 2020 as a result of his injuries, prosecutors said.
The District Attorney’s Office said the case is only the second homicide prosecution against an on-duty law enforcement officer in San Francisco history.
“We rely on officers to follow their training and to deescalate situations; instead, in just eight minutes, Officer Cha elevated a nonviolent encounter to one that took Sean Moore’s life,” Boudin said in a statement.
Moore was shot in the early morning hours at his home in the 500 block of Capitol Avenue after Cha and another officer had responded to a noise complaint by a neighbor. The shooting was captured on the officers’ body-worn camera footage and was the first shooting involving San Francisco police after the department had rolled out the cameras to officers.
Moore’s mother said her son had a history of mental illness and that officers should have de-escalated the situation before Cha shot him. Moore was initially charged in connection with the case, but all charges were dropped later in 2017. While in prison for a separate case, he later died on Jan. 20, 2020, from injuries caused by the gunshots that hit his liver and colon, prosecutors said.
San Francisco settled a lawsuit filed by Moore’s family for $3.25 million earlier this year, with civil rights attorney John Burris representing the family. Burris said he was “pleasantly surprised” that Cha had been charged for shooting Moore.
“I’m hopeful that this represents sort of a new day” with more officers being charged in use of force cases, he said, noting a few other cases filed and prosecuted against law enforcement in the region recently.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association, which has been sharply critical of Boudin’s criminal charging decisions in several cases, issued a statement Tuesday about the charges filed against Cha.
“Officers responded to a call for service and encountered the very hostile Sean Moore who was accused of violating a restraining order. We support Officer Cha’s constitutionally protected right to present his defense against these charges that stemmed from this extremely volatile incident that an autopsy concluded took Mr. Moore’s life while he was serving time in prison on another matter,” SFPOA president Tony Montoya said.
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