SF to pay $2.5M to slain unarmed carjacking suspect

The city of San Francisco will pay $2.5 million to the mother of an unarmed Black man killed by a rookie San Francisco Police Department officer in 2017. 

Keita O'Neil, 42, died after former officer Chris Samayoa shot him during a police chase in the city's Bayview District on Dec. 1, 2017.

The payout is the largest since 2015, according to a KTVU analysis of settlements involving excessive force and wrongful death suits in the Bay Area. In fact, from 2015 to 2020, San Francisco paid out a total of $2.6 million for the entire five-year period, the analysis showed. 

San Francisco has showed a remarkable drop in payouts since the police department underwent a series of reforms and oversight. 

Samayoa is currently facing manslaughter charges, among others, for the fatal officer-involved shooting -- making Samayoa one of the first police officers charged with such a crime in the city's history.

After the shooting, in 2017, Keita O'Neil's mother Judy O'Neil filed a civil lawsuit against the city over her son's death, alleging excessive force.

MORE: In a 1st for office, San Francisco DA charges former rookie officer with manslaughter

Supervisors unanimously approved the settlement during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

"Obviously no amount of money can bring back Keita O'Neil, but at least it can bring the family some comfort during these trying times," Supervisor Dean Preston said.

Last month, when the settlement was first announced, Judy O'Neil's attorney John Burris said her son's death had left her traumatized.

In the lawsuit, the city argued that Samayoa was justified in the shooting because he had reasonable fear that O'Neil, who was unarmed, was reaching for a gun as he ran toward Samayoa. Despite this, in July, a federal judge ruled the civil case could go to trial, however, the city ultimately opted to settle.

The day of the shooting, officers responded to a report of a robbery and carjacking involving a California State Lottery van. Samayoa and another officer began pursuing the van and at some point, O'Neil emerged from the van near Fitzgerald Avenue and Griffith Street and began running.

Samayoa -- who had only been with the department for four days -- shot at an O'Neal as Samayoa was in a police vehicle. O'Neal was taken to the hospital, where he died.

In the criminal case, which remains ongoing, Samayoa is facing voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by an officer, and negligent discharge of a firearm charges.