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Banko Brown moments before being shot on April 27, 2023 (Photo: San Francisco District Attorney's Office)

SF District Attorney Announces No Criminal Charges to Be Filed In Banko Brown Shooting Case

Security guard’s actions to a threat were reasonable

By Evan Symon, May 16, 2023 6:03 pm

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday that they will not be filing criminal charges against a security guard who shot and killed a shoplifting criminal last week, finding that his actions to a threat were reasonable, as well as releasing the video of the incident to the public.

On the evening of April 27th at the Walgreens at Market and Fourth streets in the city, 33-year-old security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony confronted 24-year-old Chynna “Banko” Brown over trying to steal items from the store. According to surveillance camera footage reviewed by the DA’s office, Brown immediately became belligerent, using physical force, violence, and the threat of violence against Anthony. With his life now in mortal danger, Anthony shot Brown once with a pistol.

Police were quickly on scene, and Brown was sent to the hospital, with Anthony detained. Brown succumbed to her wounds in the days that followed and passed away. San Francisco law enforcement opened an investigation of the incident.

Former SF Asst. DA Brooke Jenkins (Photo: SF DA’s Office)

Following a review over the next weekend, District Attorney Jenkins announced last week that Anthony had acted in self defense and would not be charged. However, Jenkins’ decision brought criticism both from black and trans activists who have insisted that the shooting was not self-defense and from Supervisors who have tried to push Jenkins to reconsider the case. While Jenkins later stated last week that the investigation is still ongoing and charges have not been totally ruled out, the Board of Supervisors quickly pressed the investigation.

They subsequently introduced legislation that would limit how security guards could use firearms and urged DA Jenkins to release all police reports, witness accounts, and video footage associated with the case to see if the killing of Brown last month was in self-defense or not. All the while, protests against the killing and calling for ‘Justice for Brown’ were held across the city.

Despite the protests and political pressure, the DA’s office concluded their investigation on Tuesday, finding that Anthony had acted in self-defense as Brown had threatened to stab him multiple times and could be seen going after him again in the security footage. While no knife was found on Brown, the DA’s office concluded that the fear was reasonable, with no charges to be filed against Anthony.

“Given the totality of the circumstances, including the threat that Anthony believed, and could reasonably believe, the evidence shows that Brown’s shooting was not a criminal act because Anthony acted in lawful self-defense,” noted the DA’s report. “Thus, Anthony is not criminally liable for the death of Brown.

“Based on the criminal investigation, review of evidence, and evaluation of the case, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to support the filing of criminal charges against the suspect in the Banko Brown death investigation.

“Because of the extraordinary public interest in this case, the District Attorney’s Office produced a declination report and is making publicly available evidence reviewed and analyzed in rendering this decision.  The scope of the report is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence supports criminal charges being brought against the suspect.”

The security footage of the incident was also released, which can be seen here (Warning: Graphic), as well as civilian smart phone footage, which can be seen here (Warning: Also graphic). Both show that there was an immediate threat and fear for Anthony, justified with him shooting Brown.

Polarizing reaction to the ruling

Reaction to the ruling and the new footage was polarizing to residents and lawmakers in the Bay Area on Tuesday. Some found that the footage did not back up the District Attorney’s ruling and maintained that his death was unjustified despite the mountain of evidence.

“Banko was executed,” stated Supervisor Shamann Walton. “Where is the perceived threat?”

Brown’s family said that a lawsuit would be filed soon as well. According to family attorney John Burris,  “I’ve seen the tape and looked it over pretty closely and I believe this shooting death was unjustified. The family is very disturbed that no prosecution has taken place, particularly the father and the mother, and they would like the matter to be sent to the attorney general’s office for review.”

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin added that he will take the case to California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the US Department of Justice. “There’s distance between them, Banko Brown is unarmed, Banko Brown is outside of the store,” explained Peskin.

However, many in the city approved of the ruling. While noting that any death is tragic, residents were pleased to see that the city was starting to be in favor of law enforcement once again and that criminals were no longer given “preferential treatment.”

“The Board of Supervisors doesn’t speak for everyone,” noted community neighborhood watch member Al Tucker to the Globe on Tuesday. “So many just walk out of stores stealing, sometimes with weapons on them. This guard decided to do something about it, and when his life was in danger for doing his job, he did something about it. We’ve seen the evidence here, and I’d say most people in the city back the DA’s ruling. Peskin should just stop now. He lost, and the city is improving again. We’re finally seeing the city start to be in favor of the people again instead of these criminals.”

Frank Ma, a former law enforcement officer and security consultant, added, “Anthony was protecting his life. He was threatened and was fearful for his life and others when Brown said he was going to stab people. No one is rooting for people to be killed here, but this case showed that there was a credible threat and it was acted on.”

“The DA made the right call on this one. Everyone knows it. A criminal made a credible threat, and a security guard acted to save their life. Brown should not have shoplifted and should not have said that she had a knife and would stab people and would stab him. It was self-defense, pure and simple. Any competent judge would see it like that.”

Other lawsuits over the Brown shooting are expected to be announced soon by Brown’s family and possibly through city Supervisors.

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