A former San Francisco police officer was charged Monday with on-duty homicide in connection to a 2017 shooting, the first such charges of their kind, according to the city district attorney's office.
Chris Samayoa was charged with fatally shooting Keita O'Neil, a 42-year-old Black man suspected of carjacking a California State Lottery minivan. His charges include voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by police officer and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, CNN reports.
Today our office made history as we filed homicide charges against the former police officer who shot and killed Keita O'Neil in 2017.— SF DISTRICT ATTORNEY (@SFDAOffice) November 23, 2020
Read our press release here. pic.twitter.com/xqBczJkyhB
The judge who signed the warrant for Samayoa’s arrest set his bail at $1,000. Samayoa is expected to surrender at the warden’s office some time this week.
“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," said District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
“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."
Prosecutors say that on Dec. 1, 2017, Samayoa and another officer followed the van driven by O’Neil for a few blocks until it reached a street with a dead end. At that point, O’Neil got out and tried to escape on foot. Samayoa then fatally shot O’Neil, who was unarmed, through the passenger side window of the police car.
Samayoa was fired in March 2018 due to this incident.
"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," John Burris, attorney for O'Neil's family, told local television station KGO.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association has signaled that it is standing behind Samayoa.
“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 said in a statement.