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Boudin Charges SF Police Officer With Manslaughter for Fatally Shooting Unarmed Man

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For the second time in San Francisco history, an on-duty police officer is being prosecuted for homicide. District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Tuesday that charges have been filed against San Francisco police Officer Kenneth Cha for a 2017 shooting that caused a man’s death three years later.

A warrant was issued Tuesday for Cha’s arrest.

The four charges, including voluntary manslaughter, stem from an incident on Jan. 6, 2017 when Cha and Officer Colin Patino responded to a call at Sean Moore’s Capitol Avenue home about a temporary restraining order violation connected to a noise complaint. The neighbor who made the call spoke to officers when they arrived and provided a copy of the order, according to the DA’s press release.

The incident was captured by officer-worn body cameras that had been issued not long before. Moore, who lived up a narrow flight of stairs, told police he was not harassing his neighbor, that he was just sweeping the stairs. He told police he did not want to speak with them and asked that they leave, though they repeatedly attempted to climb the stairs and approach him. 

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The DA’s Office notes that the neighbor did not request that Moore be arrested.

Cha pepper-sprayed Moore at the top of the stairs and inadvertently sprayed Patino, who then dropped the restraining order paperwork he had been holding. The DA said Moore picked up the papers and continued to demand the officers leave his property, now from the inside his security gate.

After Patino demanded he return the papers, Moore slid them through the gate and the papers fell down the stairs. The officers insisted he come outside and threatened to kick down his gate, telling him he was under arrest. When he did come out, he informed the officers he needed medical attention, but still demanded they leave. However, they did not.

Moore swore at and threatened to remove Patino as the officer again climbed the stairs toward him. Moore began to move down the stairs and the officers approached with their batons raised. As Moore backed up, Patino struck him with the baton — Moore responded by striking back. Patino fell down the stairs as a result and Cha drew and pointed his weapon. Moore kicked toward Cha, not hitting him, but the officer shot him twice in the abdomen. 

The less than eight-minute exchange was the result of a neighbor noise complaint, and at no point was Moore considered armed. The DA’s Office alleges the officers acted unlawfully and that Moore hadn’t broken any laws. The First District Appellate Court found that the officers were criminally trespassing when they ascended the stairway the second and third time.

The gunshots damaged Moore’s liver and right colon, which resulted in his death on Jan. 20, 2020. 

Moore’s mother said her son suffered from mental health illness and she criticized the officers for not attempting to deescalate the situation. In a civil lawsuit represented by John Burris, the city agreed to pay Moore’s family $3.25 million for the wrongful death. 

According to the press release, the San Francisco Police Department adopted a deescalation policy weeks before Moore was killed.    

In a statement, Boudin said:

“We rely on officers to follow their training and to deescalate situations; instead, in just eight minutes, Officer Cha elevated a nonviolent encounter to one that took Sean Moore’s life.”

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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