DA declines to prosecute Walgreens security guard for deadly shooting of Banko Brown; video released
SAN FRANCISCO - The security guard who shot and killed alleged shoplifter Banko Brown outside a Walgreens in San Francisco will not be prosecuted, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins told KTVU in a one-on-one interview on Monday.
"We do not believe there is sufficient evidence to overcome what we would expect his defense of self-defense to be," Jenkins said. "[Anthony] has specifically articulated to the police, more than once, the facts surrounding the incident and explained that he believed he was in imminent danger, and at this time we don’t believe there is anything to overcome those statements."
Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, 33, was working as a security guard for the Walgreens at 4th and Market Streets in San Francisco, when he shot and killed Brown, 24, on April 27 during an altercation in which Brown was allegedly shoplifting.
In a surveillance video obtained by KTVU, Anthony can be seen trying to stop Brown as he tries to leave Walgreens with a bag of items.
The video shows Anthony trying to stop Brown from exiting the store with a blue bag filled with items, and Brown pushing Anthony's shoulder first.
Anthony then shoves back, the video shows, and the two began to physically struggle.
The pair began to wrestle and Anthony brings Brown to the ground and applies what looks like a choke hold while on Brown's back, the video shows. It was during this struggle on the ground that Brown allegedly said he was going to stab Anthony.
"He says it multiple times and Mr. Anthony, the security guard, believes that to be a possibility," Jenkins said.
The video shows Anthony eventually letting Brown up off the floor. Brown is then seen grabbing the bag of items that he dropped during the fight.
As Brown is walking to the door, Anthony is seen on the video unholstering his gun and pointing it at the ground.
As Brown exited Walgreens, he is seen standing on the sidewalk outside the door, making a lunging motion towards Anthony.
That's when Anthony fires one shot hitting Brown in the chest, the video shows.
Brown later died from the gunshot and no weapon was found on his body, a source of contention for many protesters who wanted Anthony charged.
WATCH: Surveillance video from Banko Brown shooting at San Francisco Walgreens
"The law does not require that somebody wait to exercise self-defense until there is a weapon coming towards them," Jenkins said. "What it evaluates is whether your fear in that moment of imminent harm is reasonable. At this point in time, the facts are that somebody has decided to become violent and aggressive with [Anthony] in order to retain stolen property, violent to the point that he’s having to use physical force to restrain him."
"We have the benefit of hindsight, right now we understand that Banko Brown did not have a knife, didn’t have a weapon, but at that moment in time it's about what the security guard perceived or believed and was that reasonable," Jenkins added. "And so based on the evidence and the law at this point, the law presumes [Anthony] was reasonable because there was an ongoing robbery at the time."
Anthony's employer, Kingdom Group Protective Services, changes its policies for how security guards operate "sometimes daily," a report by the DA's office found. On the day of Brown's shooting, KGPS guards were to have a "hands-on" policy that allowed them to physically stop attempted thefts.
"The guards were also allowed to request receipts for merchandise, but in any event they were to actively work to retrieve or recover any stolen items once it was clear that the individual who concealed the items intended to leave the store without paying," the report found.
Brown’s death became a flashpoint for activists calling for more resources for at-risk trans youth. Brown, a transgender Black man, struggled with homelessness for most of his life and was allegedly stealing candy when he was shot. Jenkins understands some of the protesters' critiques and agrees that no one should be killed for shoplifting, but Brown's incident was not a common shoplifting incident.
"I do not disagree that someone shouldn’t be shot for shoplifting, I share in those feelings," Jenkins said. "This was not an ordinary shoplifting, this wasn’t someone just walking out with an item. This is a shoplifting that became violent because Banko Brown initiated that aggressive contact with the security guard which turned this legally into a robbery."
Jenkins urged the public not to just view the video of Brown's shooting, but to consider Anthony's police testimony and his state of mind when he fired his gun.
"I, too, had a reaction when I watched the video, but as a prosecutor I can’t just look at the video alone," Jenkins said. "I have to consider the other evidence, and when you listen to the statement of Mr. Anthony you will hear from a regular person what was going on in their mind at the time this was playing out. So I simply would ask that even in the midst of very intense heightened emotions that people look at the same evidence that we did, because that is what our decision is based on."
"We all share that we wish that this never happened," Jenkins added, "but the facts are what they are and that is what we are limited to."
Monday, protesters marched through the streets of San Francisco calling for justice for Banko Brown. The protest started outside the San Francisco Walgreens where Brown was shot and killed and wound their way to City Hall.
Speaking to KTVU, Brown family attorney John Burris said, "People should protest about it. It should not go unnoticed that this person’s life was taken, what appears to be wrongfully. He was at all times trying to get away. He wasn’t trying to have a confrontation. And it’s kind of sad and tragic to see a kid killed over a minor thing. The overaggressiveness by the security guard was really, woefully unjustified."
San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton criticized Jenkins in a statement on Monday for not bringing charges.
"I have watched the video several times, Banko Brown was clearly walking backwards, after being thrown to the ground, punched, and abused by the security guard for several seconds," Walton said. "DA Jenkins’ decision to not charge gives every armed security guard in San Francisco a license to have an open season to shoot and kill Black and transgender people for alleged shoplifting."
Walton's statement calls on state Attorney General Rob Bonta to review the case.
Late Monday evening, city Supervisor Dean Preston tweeted, "The video of the Banko Brown shooting was released today. I do not understand how the District Attorney could possibly have reviewed this video and concluded that the security guard acted in self-defense."
By contrast, Supervisor Matt Dorsey wrote in a Twitter thread that he appreciated Jenkins' transparency on this investigation.
Organizers have scheduled another protest for Brown in front of City Hall on May 23 at 5 p.m.