San Francisco’s new District Attorney Chesa Boudin has withdrawn charges against a man accused of attacking two police officers in the Mission District in December, a move that has drawn harsh criticism from the head of the police union.
When police made contact with 24-year-old Jamaica Hampton they were looking for a man who had just broken into a Mission District apartment and vandalized several cars.
Since then, Hampton has had a leg amputated after being shot several times by the two arresting officers. Boudin said he’s not charging Hampton right now in part because those officers are still under investigation for opening fire.
Tony Montoya, the San Francisco Police Association president, did not mince words about Boudin’s decision not to press charges.
“Mr. Boudin has made it very clear that it’s open season on police officers,” Montoya said.
The POA is calling for federal intervention to prosecute Hampton.
The confrontation, which was caught on police body camera video, took place in about 30 seconds. In the video, Hampton can be seen crossing the street as a police cruiser pulls up. The car door opens, and Hampton runs toward the cruiser.
In the video one of the officers can be seen struggling to get free from Hampton before a fight erupts on the pavement as the second officer tries to help.
Hampton tries to escape, and the officers chase him, yelling at him to get on the ground. At one point Hampton runs toward officer Stirling Hayes, who fires several times. His partner, Christopher Flores fires once.
“It’s very clear on video,” Montoya said. “There’s no ambiguity. He ran up and attacked two of our officers, one of them with a glass bottle, to the point where he received a skull fracture. He received sutures to the face.”
In the body camera video Hampton can be seen hitting Flores with what police say is a vodka bottle.
On Monday, the SFPOA called the district attorney's office's decision "dangerous," and claimed District Attorney "Chesa Boudin is protecting criminals and suspects over crime victims."
The SFPOA also announced it is launching a website, www.Boudinblunders.com, asking visitors to email information about San Francisco criminal cases that should be prosecuted.
"Mr. Boudin has made it clear to criminals everywhere that you can violently attack a police officer and he'll look the other way," SFPOA President Tony Montoya said in a statement. "Our new website will give my members, other members of the criminal justice system and the public an opportunity to help hold Mr. Boudin
accountable for allowing criminals to operate without consequences."
In a statement, Boudin said, "The Hampton case is unique because there are multiple victims who are seeking, and who deserve justice. The assertion by Mr. Montoya that we have given people the 'green
light' to attack officers is plainly false. Our decision should only be understood as an effort to deconflict investigative time limits, statutory discovery obligations and to maintain the integrity of investigate leads. It's absolutely imperative we have internal clarity on charges we file
against any individual."
Boudin added that Hayes and Flores are currently under investigation for their use of force and would also have had to testify as witnesses in the
In an email sent to the entire police department, Chief Bill Scott called the incident a violent, criminal act. He said he plans to continue working with the DA’s office to see to it that justice is done for the officers.
Boudin ran on a progressive campaign that included prosecuting police misconduct. In this case, his office says the police officers are under investigation for the shooting, which could create a potential problem if they testify against Hampton.
When asked if this is a new policy from the DA, a spokesperson said, “the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office is developing a policy to avoid the conflicts that cases like this present, involving multiple potential suspects and theories.”
The DA has up to three years to file criminal charges against Hampton, who I still recovering in a local hospital.