SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco police officer on Tuesday was charged with the death of a man he shot over restraining order papers in 2017 and died three years later, the District Attorney announced.
Officer Kenneth Cha shot Sean Moore on Jan. 6, 2017. Moore died three years later from causes the coroner found were partly caused by a gunshot wound created by police.
DA Chesa Boudin charged Cha with voluntary manslaughter and assault with a semi-automatic firearm, along with enhancements for the personal use of a firearm and infliction of great bodily injury. Cha is still employed, according to the police union. As of Tuesday, he had not been booked, and his arraignment date had not beet set.
Boudin's office noted that this case is the second homicide prosecution against an on-duty law enforcement officer in San Francisco history.
Cha is at least the 18th Bay Area police officer charged with either deadly or excessive use of force since the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant in 2009, a review of charges by KTVU has found.
Cleo Moore, Sean Moore’s mother, was crying as she learned of the announcement, according to Boudin's office.
In a statement, she explained that she is "very happy" that Cha will be held accountable for her son’s killing and explained that she believes he was criminalized due to his mental health needs, which led to the shooting.
"We rely on officers to follow their training and to deescalate situations," Boudin said. "Instead, in just eight minutes, Officer Cha elevated a nonviolent encounter to one that took Sean Moore’s life. Sean Moore was unarmed and at his own home when Officer Cha shot him twice."
Cha's criminal defense attorney, Scott Burrell of Walnut Creek, said Boudin's decision to file charges "is surprising and disappointing." Cha lawfully shot his gun while defending himself and his parter against a "dangerous and violent assault," Burrell said.
He noted the length of time that had passed since the shooting with no charges, and that the "only new "fact" is that Boudin is now facing a recall election… Only naked politics at best are at play here."
In addition, Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, said in a statement that the officers who showed up at Moore's house that day met with a "very hostile" man, 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," Montoya said.
Officer Kenneth Cha was involved in both of San Francisco's only two police shootings in 2017, according to the public defender's office. Here, Cha displays injuries allegedly sustained in a Jan. 6 confrontation with a mentally ill man at his Ocean V (Getty Images)
According to prosecutors, Moore was shot and wounded by Cha during a physical altercation with him and his partner, Officer Colin Patino, on the stairway leading up to his home in Oceanview.
Police arrived at the 500 block of Capitol Avenue at 3:30 a.m. after a neighbor called police to say Moore was violating a restraining order by banging on the interior walls of the home.
Moore denied harassing his neighbor, indicated he knew about the order, and explained that he had not been violating it as he had just been sweeping his stairs and removing his trash, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors allege that both officers refused to leave Moore’s property despite his repeated demands and shone their flashlights at him from the bottom of the steps.
Both officers came up Moore’s steps a second time and Cha pepper-sprayed Moore, inadvertently spraying his partner as well, prosecutors said.
Moore came out of his home, but remained behind his security gate, and dropped the papers through the gate down the stairs and returned inside.
The officers continued to order Moore outside, telling him he was under arrest.
Prosecutors said Cha threatened to kick in the gate if Moore did not come outside on his own.
Moore came outside and yelled at the officers.
Prosecutors said that the pair of officers ran up the stairs a third time with their batons raised.
Cha shot Moore twice in the abdomen.
"As Mr. Moore began retreating backwards up the steps toward his home, Officer Patino hit him with his metal baton," court documents allege. "Mr. Moore struck back, and Officer Patino fell down the stairs. Officer Cha drew his gun, pointed it at Mr. Moore and ran up the steps towards Mr. Moore, who reacted by kicking in the direction of Officer Cha. The officers had been on the scene just eight minutes."
Later that year, all charges were dropped against Moore.
In January 2020, Moore died of causes determined to be related to the shooting while serving a sentence on an unrelated matter at San Quentin State Prison. The gunshots had lacerated Moore’s liver and struck his right colon, scarring internal organs and causing severe abdominal adhesions.
Boudin noted that Cha didn't even have a lawful reason to arrest Moore.
According to the First District Appellate Court, the officers were not lawfully performing their duties when they went up the stairs the second and third times.
As for his partner, Boudin's office said that any charges that would apply to Patino are barred by the statute of limitations.
In June, Moore's family was awarded $3.25 million, the largest of its kind in recent history, bringing the total police settlement amount in San Francisco to nearly $6 million since 2015, according to a review of payouts by KTVU.
The settlement is far larger than the $400,000 city paid to the family of Mario Woods, whom San Francisco police killed in 2015.
In a letter sent to the police department after the D.A.'s announcement, SFPD Chief Bill Scott reminded that Cha is innocent until proven guilty.
Adante Pointer, the civil rights attorney who represented the Moore family, told KTVU on Tuesday that the family is "happy that the officer was finally held accountable for killing Sean."
And he added that he hoped that these "charges will serve as a warning and deterrent for police not to kill people."