The San Francisco district attorney has angered many in the community by dropping charges against a police officer for the death of an unarmed Black man shot outside his home.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins dropped manslaughter charges against Officer Kenneth Cha, who shot Sean Moore on the steps of Moore’s house during a 2017 confrontation. In dropping the case, Jenkins said she “can not ethically prosecute this case in good faith” and implied the charges had been brought for political reasons. However, this latest refusal to prosecute has called into question the city and Jenkins’ commitment to enforce accountability and the rule of law for its police.
Cha shot Moore twice after responding to a noise complaint made by a neighbor with a restraining order against Moore, who, according to his family, had mental health problems. During the encounter, Moore got into a physical altercation with police outside his home. While Cha claimed the shooting was in self-defense because Moore was attacking him, bodycam footage revealed Moore, who had earlier struck two officers, was attempting to go back into his house when he shot him on the steps of his residence.
District Attorney George Gascon did not bring charges against Cha regarding the shooting in 2017. Moore initially survived his wounds but later died in 2020 while imprisoned for an unrelated offense. Medical examiners determined the earlier gunshot injuries led to Moore’s death, and District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed manslaughter charges against Cha in 2021. Boudin determined Officer Cha had insufficient cause to attempt to arrest Moore and that “in just eight minutes, Officer Cha elevated a nonviolent encounter to one that took Sean Moore’s life. During his tenure, which ended in a 2022 recall, Boudin charged two other officers for shootings in separate incidents. Jenkins has now dropped all three cases.
In dropping the charges against Cha, Jenkins declared, “The people of San Francisco elected me to restore accountability and enhance public safety.” In further criticism of her predecessor, Jenkins stated it is her job “to faithfully follow the facts and the law and not bow to political pressure or pursue politically expedient prosecutions that are legally and ethically dubious.” Moore’s brother has said he is “beyond angry” and “in disbelief” at the decision to drop the charges against Cha. Activist Samuel Sinyangwe posted on Twitter that the decision by Jenkins means that “murder is now fully decriminalized for police in the city of San Francisco.”
Police union-backed DA drops every murder case committed by police. Murder is now fully decriminalized for police in the city of San Francisco. https://t.co/aw2bCjglKs
— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) July 3, 2023
Black and Latina Jenkins is the second woman of color to serve as San Francisco’s district attorney, following in the footsteps of Vice President Kamala Harris, who held the office from 2004 to 2010. Two other Black women also serve as district attorneys in Bay Area counties: Pamela Price and Diana Becton of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. But just as Harris was criticized for her tenure as DA, Jenkins has increasingly come under scrutiny for siding with police in the shooting cases brought by the previous administration. With several high-profile cases being terminated under Jenkins, the debate over her tenure will likely continue.