DA discusses Cash App founder Bob Lee's death, safety in San Francisco
OAKLAND, Calif. - District Attorney Brooke Jenkins came on Mornings on 2 Friday morning to answer questions about her office charging an Emeryville entrepreneur with the murder of Cash App founder Bob Lee, as well as overall safety concerns in San Francisco.
Jenkins wouldn't divulge too many details about the arrest of Nima Momeni in connection with Lee's April 4 fatal stabbing, but she did say prosecutors were weighing to charge him with either first- or second-degree murder.
If convicted of all counts, Momeni could face a maximum of up to 26 years to life. She did not explain Momeni's relationship to Lee, or the motive behind the killing.
In general, Jenkins also said that many people in San Francisco don't feel safe and they want those fears acknowledged.
Here is her Q&E with KTVU's Gasia Mikaelian. The responses have been slightly edited for clarity.
Gasia: Let's talk about the Bob Lee case. First of all, what do you want people to take away from news of this arrest?
DA: I want people to take away that one, we have a police department that's dedicated to making sure that they solve these types of cases, but also that they have law enforcement leaders in place who believe in accountability. We are not a city any longer that that allows violent and repeat offenders to be back out onto the street without any consequence. And so we will ensure that anybody who commits crime in San Francisco is held accountable.
Gasia: People who watch TV dramas might infer it was a stabbing that's close and personal. It was a crime of passion. Any response to those theories?
DA: Of course we all have watched these shows and we are trying to fill in the gaps because no one knows any of the facts just yet. I would just say be patient. As this case comes through the system, we will learn more.
Gasia: I read a long blog post from the family of Bob Lee, and they say that they want to make sure the man who killed their beloved husband and son and father is not allowed to hurt anyone else or walk free. What sort of sentence or what sort of you know, given these charges, what could the suspect be facing?
DA: At this time, based on the charges, he's facing 26 years to life in prison. And so we will, as evidence is further investigated and unveiled, we'll decide whether we're pursuing first degree murder or second degree murder charges.
Gasia: OK. Let's talk a little bit more broadly here. And there has been a narrative that really was heightened last week after Bob Lee's killing. Elon Musk tweeted that crime in San Francisco was horrific. There were in the national press things like lawlessness taking over the city. I looked at some recent crime stats on the SFPD's website and looking from the beginning of the year to now, homicides and rapes are down about 25%, robberies up 10%. Assaults are about the same, burglary down, motor vehicle theft down. Crime by these numbers isn't spiking. Why then do you think there is this sort of feeling nationally, but also with many here at home?
DA: I think San Franciscans are still very much concerned about public safety and we still have a long way to go to make San Francisco as safe as it needs to be. And so, this isn't always necessarily about data. It's about the way that our residents and business owners and even visitors feel. And so that is what drives me every day, is to make sure that they aren't just safer in reality. They're also safer in the way that they feel when they step outside of their doors every day.
Gasia: And so what are you doing to that end?
DA: Again, I'm making sure that we have accountability in our criminal justice system that was lacking for a number of years. I think that's why we've seen crime really explode with respect to drug dealing and other things. And so for me, it's making sure that when my prosecutors go into court that they make public safety-based arguments to judges to ensure that violent people, dangerous people, stay in custody and to make sure that real consequences are imposed when people commit serious crime.
Gasia: You grew up here in the Bay Area, in the East Bay, to be specific here. What do you make of that recent survey that was just released yesterday by the city that asked San Franciscans last year before the public case happened? How do you feel? Do you feel safe walking around? How do you think public safety is? How do you think public officials are doing in the city? And the city overall came away with a grade that was lower than any other year in the past 25 years. You've been around that long and more. What do you make of that assessment?
DA: I think it's reflective of what people feel. Certainly what people see on the news, what people see all.
Gasia: Over the news or see in person?
DA: Both. So it's what they are experiencing in real life. When you're walking around and seeing, again, people dealing drugs, when they're when we are having situations with robberies, that is one of the categories that is up. But also, we are flooded with information both in the news and online that that feeds that perception as well. So it's reality and it's also what we see and what we take it.
Gasia: We had the mayor on earlier this week and and there is a lot of pushback to the narrative. Do you think more San Franciscans want to see an acknowledgment from city leaders such as yourself, the mayor and the police chief, that things are bad in some parts of the city?
DA: Absolutely. That is what I have felt since I took office, is that San Franciscans want their concerns to be acknowledged. They want us as city leaders to understand what they are feeling, what they are experiencing, and they want us to do something about it. And you can't do anything about a problem if you won't acknowledge that it exists.
Gasia: Do people read? I go to the city. I love going to the city for the average person. Do those stats even matter?
DA: No, because it's about whether or not when I get up in the morning and I walk outside my house, am I scared that somebody is going to rob me, that somebody is going to break into my house when I'm inside or even while I'm gone when I parked my car?
Gasia: I do feel that way. All these sentiment sounds so common out in the public. Do you as DA feel that way?
DA: Certainly, as an everyday citizen. Yes, depending on where you're at.
Gasia: Interesting. All right. How long have you been on the job now? Nine months. Exactly. Okay. Got it. All right. Brooke Jenkins, we appreciate. We could talk for a long time about this and larger issues. I know you're heading to the arraignment yourself, and that's this morning over in the city. Let's get you across that bridge. All right. Thank you, Brooke Jenkins. Thank you for joining us.