San Francisco

Critics Question SF DA's Decision to Charge Cop With Homicide in 2017 Shooting

The District Attorney's Office said the case is only the second homicide prosecution against an on-duty law enforcement officer in San Francisco history

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For just the second time in city history, a San Francisco police officer will now face homicide charges for an on-duty shooting.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin on Tuesday announced manslaughter and assault charges in connection with a bizarre confrontation and shooting in 2017.

The charges come five years after the violent encounter between SFPD officers and then 42-year-old Sean Moore, which ended in two gunshot wounds.

Body camera footage from the 2017 incident shows Officer Kenneth Cha and Officer Colin Patino responding to a restraining order call in the city's Oceanview neighborhood. Footage shows Moore telling the officers to get off his property as they arrive.

Moments later the officers started fighting with Moore and eventually Cha fires his gun. The shots hits Moore, injuring his liver and colon, but not killing him.

Moore died three years later while in prison on unrelated charges. The autopsy report found the injuries from the 2017 shooting contributed to his death. San Francisco settled with Moore's family months later for more than $3 million.

"All of the approximately 8,000 new criminal cases that I filed since I took office are not about representing anything other than justice," Boudin said. "We look at the facts. We look at the law and we do what's in the interest of justice and that's exactly what the team did in this case."

But some critics have questioned the district attorney's motive, saying Tuesday's announcement is more about taking attention away from a potential recall. Boudin denies it.

"For some like Moore's father, this filing comes too late," Boudin said. "And others will seek to politicize this case."

An attorney for Cha echoes the critics, issuing a statement saying the only thing that has change in this case is the district attorney's political fortunes. (See full statement from Cha's attorney at bottom of this article.)

Civil Rights Attorney John Burris, who represented Moore's family, said while the DA's announcement is progress, more needs to be done.

"In one way it's a step forward, but it's not a giant leap foward," Burris said. "I think the most important thing is the police union and police officers to acknowledge that officer do in fact occasionally commit very bad acts and be willing to stand up and call it when they see it."

An arraignment is expected in the coming days, with a public preliminary hearing expected next month.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association, which has been sharply critical of Boudin's criminal charging decisions in several cases, issued the following statement Tuesday about the charges filed against Cha:

Officers responded to a call for service and encountered the very hostile Sean Moore who was accused of violating a restraining order. We support Officer Cha's constitutionally protected right to present his defense against these charges that stemmed from this extremely volatile incident that an autopsy concluded took Mr. Moore's life while he was serving time in prison on another matter.

Cha's attorney, Scott Burrell, provided the following statement on Tuesday:

Chesa Boudin's decision to file charges against Officer Kenneth Cha is surprising and disappointing. Since 2017, both District Attorney Boudin's administration, as well as the prior administration, declined to file charges against Officer Cha on these very same facts. The only new "fact" is that Boudin is now facing a recall election. Further, Boudin’s attempts to explain his decision to file charges fall flat. In 2017, the District Attorneys's office filed felony charges against Sean Moore for the violent assault on Officer Cha and his partner, and Moore was held to answer on those charges in the Superior Court. Now, over five years later, Boudin argues that Moore did nothing wrong, and Officer Cha committed a crime. The facts of this case have never changed. Officer Cha lawfully shot his firearm while defending himself and his partner against a dangerous and violent assault. Only naked politics at best are at play here.

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