For the first time in the city's history, a former San Francisco Police Department officer will be charged in connection to an on-duty shooting. Former police officer Chris Samayoa shot and killed 42-year-old Keita O'Neil in 2017. As a result, he is now being charged with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by police officer and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence.
“For too long, we have seen the failures of our legal system to hold police accountable for the violence committed against the members of the public they are entrusted to keep safe," District Attorney Chesa Boudin said.
“Police officers are obligated to follow the law when using force — even when responding to serious crimes. As District Attorney, I will continue to hold accountable officers who inflict unlawful violence and breach the trust the public places in them."
The incident in question took place on December 1, 2017. O'Neil had been accused of carjacking multiple vehicles in the area. Samayoa and another officer followed O'Neil as he drove a van towards a dead end. From there, officers claim that O'Neil attempted to flee on foot. As he attempted to flee, Samayoa shot and killed the unarmed man from inside his police vehicle. Samayoa was let go from the police force months later.
"I was quite pleased to see it. I was a little surprised that it wasn't murder, but I understand the DA thinks manslaughter is a charge that is easier to prove than murder," O'Neil's family attorney, John Burris, said.
Despite the charges, the San Francisco Police Organization has remained supportive of O'Neil.
“We are committed to ensuring that Christopher and his family are supported during this difficult time and that he is accorded his due process rights and provided with a vigorous defense against these charges," the organization stated.
A warrant has been issued ford Samayoa's arrest. His bail has been set at $1,000.
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