San Francisco security guard will not be charged in fatal shooting of suspected Walgreens shoplifter
By Veronica Miracle, Cheri Mossburg, Taylor Romine and Eric Levenson, CNN
(CNN) — The security guard who shot and killed a suspected shoplifter at a Walgreens in downtown San Francisco last month will not face criminal charges, the district attorney’s office announced Monday, saying the shooter acted in self-defense.
The district attorney’s office under Brooke Jenkins released surveillance video and a written report Monday regarding Michael Anthony’s fatal shooting of Banko Brown on April 27.
According to the report, the guard said Brown had repeatedly threatened to stab him prior to the shooting. Police did not find a knife in Brown’s possession, the report states, but prosecutors still determined his fear was reasonable.
“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,” the report states. “Thus, Anthony is not criminally liable for the death of Brown.”
However, Brown’s family attorney John Burris told CNN’s Sara Sidner that the guard’s actions were “way beyond what was reasonable and necessary.”
“Stopping someone and talking to them is different than stopping them and beating them up and ultimately killing them,” Burris said on Tuesday
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week sent a letter asking District Attorney Brooke Jenkins to release the surveillance video showing the shooting after no charges were brought against the guard during the 72 hours he was in custody.
The surveillance camera video released Monday shows Brown attempting to leave the store before being stopped by the security guard, identified by police as Anthony. Brown then shoves the guard, leading to a physical altercation.
Brown is held on the ground by the guard but released after about a minute, the video shows. Brown starts to leave but appears to turn around and move toward the guard, who then shoots him, the video shows.
The killing and lack of charges has led to protests in San Francisco connected to broader debates over crime, poverty, homelessness and criminal justice in the Northern California city.
San Francisco has seen a marked exodus of middle class residents since the Covid-19 pandemic, and a series of brazen property crimes and rampant public drug use has created a sense of disorder, as CNN explored in the recent special, “What happened to San Francisco?”
One such incident was a daytime theft at a Walgreens store in 2021 captured on video in which a suspect casually grabbed items from shelves, tossed them into a black bag and left the store, brushing past the store’s security guard and several onlookers. Walgreens said at the time this “blatant retail theft” was an ongoing problem at its stores, although a company executive said earlier this year “maybe we cried too much” about the issue.
As part of the backlash, the progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin was recalled by a 55% vote last year. Jenkins was appointed to replace him and pledged to “restore accountability and consequences to our criminal justice system,” saying this was a moment to “take back our streets.”
What the video and interviews show
In his videotaped interview with police, the guard said Brown repeatedly threatened to stab him during the fight.
“I felt like I was in danger. I felt like I was going to be stabbed,” Anthony said.
According to the district attorney’s report, Brown was a transgender man. Anthony, using incorrect pronouns, further described his mental state the moment Brown moved toward him.
“And I didn’t know what she was planning on doing, but, uh … turns out her intention was to … try to spit at me and by that reaction by her turning around and advancing towards me … that’s when I lifted it (motions with hands) and then shot once.”
The district attorney’s report notes that self-defense applies when a person has a reasonable belief they are in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm.
“There is no evidence to contradict that Anthony’s fear was honest,” the report states.
However, Burris, the attorney representing Brown’s family, said he will move forward with filing a lawsuit in the case soon.
“I’ve seen the tape and looked it over pretty closely and I believe this shooting death was unjustified,” he told CNN.
“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.”
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said he is asking the state attorney general and the US Department of Justice to review the case. He told CNN affiliate KGO he was troubled by the video.
“There’s distance between them, Banko Brown is unarmed, Banko Brown is outside of the store,” he said.
Walgreens issued a statement offering its condolences to Brown’s family.
“The safety of our patients, customers and team members is our top priority, and violence of any kind will not be tolerated in our stores,” the company said. “We take this matter seriously and are cooperating with local authorities.”
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