During a Monday (November 23) press conference, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced his office has filed five charges against former officer Chris Samayoa, who is accused of killing 42-year-old Keita O’Neil in December of 2017.
According to ABC7 News, the formal charges against Samayoa include voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by a police officer and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence.
"As far as we are aware, this is the first-ever time that the San Francisco District Attorney's office has filed homicide charges against a law enforcement officer for a homicide while on duty," Boudin said.
Boudin, a former public defender who became district attorney earlier this year, called the charges "historic" and promised to apply the law evenly "no matter what the color of your skin....or whether you wear a uniform to work."
"For far too long we have seen the failure of our legal system to hold police accountable for violence committed against the very members of the public that they have sworn to serve and protect," Boudin added.
The charges were filed nearly three years to the day of the fatal encounter between Samayoa and O’Neil on December 1, 2017.
A lawyer representing O’Neil’s family told KQED they are in for the long haul in order to get justice for Keita.
"It was a very obvious case of criminal activity of a police officer," attorney Melissa Nold told the news station. "This is step one of a long process for the family, so there's a long way to go.”
KPIX 5 reports the incident began after officer Samayoa and training officer Edric Talusan followed O’Neil as he drove the California State Lottery minivan through San Fran’s Bayview district. They believe he had carjacked the state-owned vehicle.
O’Neil allegedly eventually drove the vehicle into a dead end street and fled on foot. According to city officials, other officers in patrol cars closed in and blocked any route of escape for O’Neil. He then ran past the patrol vehicle where Samayoa was seated in the passenger seat.
"Officer Samayoa pointed his gun and shot Mr. O'Neil through the passenger side window of the patrol car, killing Mr. O'Neil," the DA’s office said in a statement.
"Mr. O'Neil had no weapon on him. His cause of death was determined to be a homicide."
Samayoa's bail is expected to be set at $1,000.
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