The San Francisco District Attorney's Office released a disturbing surveillance video on Monday that captures the moment a Walgreens security guard fatally shot an alleged shoplifter. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins made the video public as she defended her decision not to charge security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony in the death of Banko Brown.
On April 27, Anthony, 33, was working at a pharmacy in the city when he shot Banko Brown, 24, who was unarmed. A murder charge against Anthony was dropped after the DA determined that the killing was in self-defense. Jenkins said on Monday that Anthony was defending himself when he shot Brown at a Walgreens in downtown San Francisco.
Self Defense or Murder?
The graphic surveillance video, which was made available on Monday, shows Anthony, a licensed guard since 2012, stepping in to stop Brown from taking a bag of merchandise out of the store before punching Brown repeatedly.
Brown and Anthony struggle for a few seconds before Anthony puts him in a chokehold and knocks him to the ground. They remain there for a while as customers nonchalantly pass by them.
After exchanging a few more words, Brown seems to go slightly forward while holding his arms up before backing up just as Anthony shoots him.
A crowd of people gathers around Brown as he collapses on the pavement in front of the store. He was taken to a local hospital and eventually died there.
Anthony was initially detained on suspicion of murder, a day after the shooting. However, Anthony was later freed without being charged after District Attorney Brooke Jenkins stated that Anthony was in "mortal danger" and "acted in self-defense."
His death sparked outrage across the Bay Area, but despite this, DA Brooke Jenkins' office announced on Monday they were not pressing charges against Anthony.
In the report that was made public on Monday 'insufficient evidence' was cited by the DA as a reason why no charges of manslaughter or murder were brought against Anthony. Instead, the DA's office claimed that the evidence demonstrated Anthony was 'sincerely afraid.'
"All of this evidence strongly suggests that Anthony firing at Brown in self-defense was objectively reasonable," the report reads.
Who Is to Be Blamed?
In a police interview, Anthony said that he had told Brown to put the items back and that Brown had been the one who fought to keep them. The security officer informed police that while the two were fighting, Brown repeatedly threatened to stab him after being instructed to calm down.
However, according to the SF Chronicle, detectives did not find a knife at the scene or on Brown.
Protests had already started following the decision to drop the charges against Anthony last week. On Tuesday, campaigners displayed signs reading "Justice for Banko Brown" during a meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
One protester, who identified himself by the name Lia McGeever, screamed in indignation over the death of Brown, who was homeless and an intern with the Young Women's Freedom Center.
"I hate a lot of people on this board for the reasons that led up to Banko Brown's death," she said.
Anthony, in an interview with The San Francisco Standard, said, "[I'm] still dealing with it, still don't understand and don't have the time to reflect.
"It's not like I go through this many times. This is a very life-changing matter."
"This is important for more people to be more aware of," he said, pointing out the pressure security officers face during these kinds of altercations. It was occurring far too often.
"It's a lot to deal with. It's a lot of pressure. A person can only take so much. When you are limited to certain options, something will happen."
"Who has my back? Nobody. You are left with no support. It's a frightening feeling with a lot of people around you."
Several locals and neighbors have since left candles and floral tributes in Brown's memory.
The incident comes just after a number of prominent chains announced they will close their San Francisco locations owing to the city's skyrocketing crime rates. Retailers such as Office Depot, Nordstrom, Whole Foods, and Anthropologie have all said they will leave the city.