Recorded on police body cam video fatally shooting an unarmed man, a former San Francisco police officer was recently arrested on manslaughter and negligence charges. According to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, this case is the first homicide prosecution against an on-duty law enforcement officer in the city’s history.
On December 1, 2017, SFPD Officers Edric Talusan and Chris Samayoa were following Keita O’Neil who was suspected of stealing a California State Lottery van. According to Officer Samayoa’s body cam video, Talusan was driving the patrol car while Samayoa remained in the passenger seat and removed the gun from his holster.
As O’Neil drove the van into a dead end, he fled from the vehicle on foot and attempted to run past Samayoa’s closed car door. Samayoa used his left hand to open the door while firing a single bullet through his closed passenger window from the gun in his right hand.
The bullet smashed through the glass window and struck O’Neil in the head as he tried to run away. No weapon was found near O’Neil’s body, and his death was ruled a homicide.
In March 2018, Samayoa was fired from the department as a result of this shooting. O’Neil’s family filed an excessive force lawsuit against the city and the department.
On Monday, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced that Samayoa has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by a 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. In my administration, police officers are not above the law,” District Attorney Boudin said in a recent press release. “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 criminal justice system will allow for the facts surrounding this case to be disclosed,” San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA) President Tony Montoya said in a statement supporting the former officer. “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.”
Representing District 10, where the shooting occurred, Supervisor Shamann Walton stated, “Bayview residents deserve to know that law enforcement officers who inflict violence and harm in the community will be held accountable. This prosecution is an important, historic step towards showing that Black lives matter and that unlawful police violence will not be tolerated.”