Surveillance video of the shooting death of Banko Brown, a transgender Black man, has been released by San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. However, many are still upset at Jenkins for deciding not to charge Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, the security guard that killed Brown.
According to the Advocate, the 24-year-old was fatally shot outside of a Walgreens in the Bay Area last month following an alleged shoplifting incident. Brown’s friends claim he wasn’t shoplifting, though Jenkins said that “both threats of force and physical force were used,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the Advocate, Jenkins initially declined to share whether Brown had a weapon, but it has since been confirmed that he was unarmed at the time of his death.
Despite being unarmed, Jenkins determined that “the evidence clearly shows that the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense,” per The New York Times.
Her decision has not gone over well with San Francisco officials, activists and Brown’s family. Some are questioning why stores need to have armed guards in the first place. Jenkins initially declined to release the video of Brown’s death, but the backlash pushed her to do so. The clip shows Anthony pushing and punching Brown. Along with the clip, Jenkins shared a 25-page report laying out why she didn’t charge Anthony, The Bay Area Reporter reported.
In the report, Jenkins claimed that Anthony confronted Brown about allegedly shoplifting. Shortly after, Brown started to threaten him.
“During the struggle, Anthony reports that Brown repeatedly threatened to stab him,” the report states. “Anthony had Brown pinned down and released Brown after telling Brown repeatedly that he would let Brown go if Brown calmed down. Anthony released Brown, stepped back, and drew his firearm because of the stabbing threats, but pointed the firearm at the ground. Brown grabbed the bag of goods off the floor, made for the exit, then turned and lunged in Anthony’s direction, after which the shot was fired. Anthony said he shot because he was in fear for his safety.”
The Brown family’s lawyer, civil rights attorney John Burris, said he is skeptical about many of the details shared in Jenkins’ report, especially her claim that Brown threatened Anthony. He said he suspects that claim may have been “just made up afterward,” according to The Bay Area Reporter.
The report also states that Anthony told inspectors that while he didn’t see anything in Brown’s hand, “he was not certain that Brown did not have the ability to make good on the threat.”
Regardless of Jenkins and Anthony’s claims, Burris said he still believes the guard’s actions were not justified.
“It seems to me the officer was being aggressive, physically controlling, and beating up on Banko, who ultimately broke loose and went out the door,” he told The Bay Area Reporter. “He turned and was facing him, and he was shot. I haven’t seen any evidence Banko was lunging toward the officer. It seems the use of deadly force was unconscionable and unnecessary.”
“I don’t agree with the DA’s decision not to charge — at the very least, it could be a manslaughter case,” he added.
As the investigation continues, those closest to Brown are remembering who he was, the Advocate reported. The 24-year-old, who was unhoused for a long period of time, was looking for housing while working as a community organizing intern with the Young Women’s Freedom Center. The Center helps young women and trans youth who have experienced poverty and other struggles.
“Banko was a loving person,” Julia Arroyo, co-executive director of Young Women’s Freedom Center, said at a rally on Brown’s behalf after his death, per the Advocate. “Every time Banko walked into the center, he was surrounded by small children and a gang of people around him. And even when he was turned away from doors, he still brought people to get resources.”