Family of Banko Brown files wrongful death suit against Walgreens, security company

The family of Banko Brown on Friday filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walgreens and the security company that employed the guard who shot and killed the 24-year-old.

Civil rights attorney John Burris filed the suit on behalf of Brown's family in San Francisco Superior Court against Walgreens, Kingdom Group Protective Services, and the security guard, Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, who shot Brown. The family is seeking at least $25 million. 

"No one deserves to be killed for shoplifting or arguing with a security guard. The security company put pressure on the guards to more actively physically detain shoplifters," said Burris. "It's clear Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony felt that pressure and Anthony cracked under the pressure and shot and killed someone who posed no significant threat to him. He should be in jail."

Banko Brown's mother Kevinisha Henderson and father Terry Brown are alleging the defendants are guilty of negligence.

Anthony was on-duty at Walgreens on 4th and Market streets on April 27 when he shot Brown, who was suspected of shoplifting from the store.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins declined to file charges against Anthony in the case, citing self-defense. That decision ignited controversy and prompted state Attorney General Rob Bonta to step in. Bonta on Tuesday agreed to review evidence in the case that led to Jenkins' decision not to file charges.

Burris thinks the security guard could have de-escalated the situation and had a conversation with Brown.

"Anthony's failure to exercise reasonable care was the proximate cause of Mr. Brown's death," the complaint said.

Anthony's employer, Kingdom Group Protective Services, is vicariously liable for Brown's death and Walgreens are liable because Anthony was acting as their agent, according to the complaint.

Anthony allegedly had an agitated state of mind during the encounter, Burris said. He alleged Anthony said he was tired of shoplifters and that a person can only take so much.

The security firm sent to Walgreens a guard who was "emotionally unfit to be out there," Burris said.

Brown's parents are furthermore seeking damages related to battery against their son, among other civil violations.

The parents declined to speak to reporters at a news conference Friday afternoon at Burris' law firm in Oakland, but Burris said they want Anthony charged with murder.

"We are fully cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation of this extremely unfortunate incident and are deeply saddened by the loss of Banko Brown's life," said Marlon D'Oyen with Kingdom Group Protective Services. "At this time, we are not permitted to comment further."

Neither Walgreens nor its parent company responded to an email seeking comment on the suit. Attempts to reach Anthony by phone Friday morning were unsuccessful.

Bay City News' Keith Burbank contributed to this report.