SF DA plans to dismiss prosecution of police officer saying charges were politically motivated

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins plans to dismiss charges against a police officer accused of shooting and killing an unarmed man five years ago – because she said the charges against him were politically motivated.

In a letter obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, Jenkins told state Attorney General Rob Bonta that she believes the case was filed by former DA Chesa Boudin for "political reasons." 

Officer Chris Samayoa has pleaded not guilty to felony charges, including manslaughter.

Police were chasing Keita O'Neil following a robbery and carjacking in 2017.

When O'Neil got out of a stolen van and ran past a patrol car, Samayoa shot him.

"It appears that the case was filed for political reasons and not in the interests of justice," Jenkins wrote in the letter obtained by The Chronicle. "I cannot pursue this case out of political convenience. Given the conflicts that have arisen, the evidentiary problems, and the complete lack of good faith surrounding the filing of this matter, we cannot ethically proceed with this prosecution."

In a statement to KTVU on Friday, Jenkins said that she has an "obligation to only pursue cases that are filed in good faith and that we believe we can prosecute."

Unfortunately, she added, "the irregularities and facts that have come to light surrounding the case against officer Samayoa suggest that the charges were not filed in good faith, appear to have been politically-motivated, and have made it impossible for us to proceed forward with this prosecution."

Still, Jenkins said she is committed to holding police and law enforcement accountable "any time we can prove that they are in violation of the law."

Boudin called Jenkins’ plan to drop the charges offensive, the Chronicle reported. 

He said he filed the case on the facts, which he said also led the Police Department to fire Samayoa and the city to pay O’Neil’s family a $2.5 million settlement.

Boudin was the first San Francisco district attorney to charge an officer in an on-duty killing,

In addition, Brian Ford, a lawyer representing O'Neil's aunt, is asking for Bonta to take over the case. 

"We made this request," Ford wrote, "because we believed Brooke Jenkins and her office to be conflicted in the prosecution, that she was more interested in investigating the Boudin administration than she was in holding Christopher Samayoa accountable for the murder of Keita O’Neil."