A former San Francisco police officer pleaded not guilty Monday to manslaughter and assault charges for fatally shooting a man during a 2017 police pursuit in the Bayview.
Christopher Samayoa was a rookie who had been on the force only four days on Dec. 1, 2017 when he shot Keita O’Neil in the head through the window of a moving police car. He was fired shortly after the shooting.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who was elected last year on a platform of criminal justice reform, charged Samayoa last month with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault by an executive officer, assault with a semi-automatic firearm and negligent discharge of a firearm.
“In San Francisco there has been a long history of officer-involved shootings leading to no accountability whatsoever, further cementing the idea that police are above the law,” Boudin said when he announced the charges. “That stops today.”
Police were pursuing O’Neil in a California lottery van that had been stolen in a carjacking earlier that day when he pulled over, got out of the vehicle, and ran past the patrol car where Samayoa was riding in the passenger seat. Samayoa fired out the window of the moving vehicle.
O’Neil died at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital after the shooting, which was captured on Samayoa’s body-worn camera.
O’Neil’s family has filed an excessive force lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco in connection with the shooting that is still pending.
Samayoa was the first of several officers to be charged by the district attorney’s office in recent weeks.
Officer Christopher Flores is facing three charges of assault with a semi-automatic firearm, negligent discharge of a firearm and assault by a public officer in the shooting of 25-year-old Jamaica Hampton in the Mission District in December last year.
And Officer Terrance Stangel has been charged with battery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault likely to cause great bodily injury and assault under color of authority in connection with an Oct. 2019 encounter with Dacari Spiers in the city’s Fisherman’s Wharf area.
Samayoa appeared virtually in court Monday via Zoom. He has been released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 26 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.