Tempers flare at funeral service held for Banko Brown in San Francisco

Funeral services for Banko Brown, the suspected shoplifter who was shot and killed by a Walgreens security guard, were held Thursday morning at the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco. 

This comes a day ahead of the announcement of a wrongful-death lawsuit against Walgreens, the involved guard, and Kingdom Group Protective Services – the security company that employed the security guard.  

The service, which was led by Reverend Dr. Amos Brown, was briefly interrupted after emotions boiled over among attendees. 

Family members of Brown filled inside the historic Third Baptist Church for a final farewell, and almost immediately tempers flared.

At times, it looked like a physical fight would break out, with some family members standing between the factions.

The disruption inside the church continued off and on for about 10 minutes, prompting Rev. Brown to wrest back control of the services, offering some insight into how the pain of Banko Brown's death is inextricably tied to struggles facing the black community. 

"It mirrors the pathological experiences of black folk in this city," Rev. Brown said.

Family members said their grief and anger spilled over, they say it was an expression of frustration and rage from the loss of someone they say brought joy and love to so many. 

"His family shouldn't be like that," said Brown's cousin Harrishiana Lee. "His brother shouldn't be screaming like that, because he don't have his twin no more. It affects you differently when you're so close to somebody."

Outside the church, the display of raw emotion continued, with many saying their final goodbyes to the hearse carrying Brown's casket.

"It's a lot of pain here from the family," said John Burris, the Browns' attorney. "Banko was young. He has two families, plus a community. All of them are outraged by what happened."

Burris says he's working with the family to file a lawsuit and says the impact Brown's death has had on this family is clear. 

Brown, 24, was shot and killed by Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, a security guard working for Walgreens on 4th and Market Streets in San Francisco, on April 27.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins declined to prosecute Anthony, who she said acted in self-defense. Video released by Jenkins’ office shows Anthony and Brown in an altercation at the exit of the Walgreens and the events that led to Brown’s shooting. 

The video shows the two wrestling on the ground, at which point Brown allegedly said he was going to stab Anthony, Anthony told police officials. 

Brown is let up, and once he exits the Walgreens, he turns and makes a lunging motion toward Anthony, at which point he fires one shot, hitting Brown in the chest. 

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

Jenkins’ decision not to prosecute led to widespread backlash from both residents and San Francisco County supervisors.

"It seems like nobody is listening, but eventually in due time, somebody will hear us. And somebody will give us justice," said Asia Hubbard, Brown’s former partner. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office says it will investigate the decision by Jenkins and determine whether Anthony should face charges.

SEE ALSO: California AG to review evidence in deadly shooting of Banko Brown

Civil rights attorney John Burris, in a late Thursday press release, said a news conference will be held Friday at 1 p.m. in Oakland to announce the wrongful death lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court.

"Anthony was on edge, a powder keg waiting to explode. Banko's apparent shoplifting was the spark that set Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony off. Walgreens and Kingdom Protective Services ordered their security to be more aggressive, causing their unfit security guard to blow up and kill Banko over nothing," said Burris. 

Another attorney representing the family said Brown, or no one for that matter, deserves to be killed for shoplifting or for arguing with a security guard. 

"The security company put pressure on the guards to more actively physically detain shoplifters. 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," said attorney Ben Nisenbaum. 

The lawsuit alleges that Walgreens' policy of hiring armed security guards was the wrong approach to address its theft problem, especially with unhoused and low-income clientele frequenting the store. 

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