After San Francisco’s District Attorney announced that no charges would be filed against an armed Walgreens security guard who fatally shot a shoplifter because the guard “believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense” and prosecutors would be able to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the suspect is guilty of a crime,” progressive activists and politicians in the city have been lashing out with protests and calls to charge the guard anyway.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has responded to the pressure by backtracking at least a bit, telling reporters on Monday that she’s still weighing charges against the guard despite her previous statements clearing the man.
The statement comes after Jenkins said earlier this month that she would not charge the security guard because there was “‘credible evidence of reasonable self-defense,” and that pursuing such charges “would be unethical and create false hope for a successful prosecution.”
But on Monday, she said in a statement that she’d “asked SFPD investigators to locate and interview additional witnesses and gather additional evidence. A final charging decision will be made when the investigation is complete.”
In Monday’s statement, Jenkins said she “hear(s) and understand(s) the concerns from people calling for transparency,” but stood by her past decision not to release video of the encounter.
Jenkins went on to say that when she had decided not to charge Anthony, he’d been in police custody and that California law requires suspects be charged within 72 hours, and to hold them longer without charges would violate their due process rights.
“It is my duty to follow the law and the evidence wherever it leads, and do everything in our power to advance justice and healing in our communities,” she said.
“Human life is more important than property,” said Preston. “We need to change our local law so that security guards cannot unholster their weapons just to protect property.”
While I’m sure that sounds appealing to many San Francisco residents, it’s a knee-jerk reaction that comes with a lot of unintended consequences. In this case, prosecutors have never said that the guard was justified in shooting Banko Brown because Brown was shoplifting. Instead, the D.A. said that the guard was in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm and was acting in self-defense, not defense of property. Preston’s legislation is a red herring that ignores some of the basic points of the incident, but it would also place the city’s armed guards at risk. A situation can escalate from a normal loss prevention interaction to a deadly threat in moments, but armed guards may be more reluctant to defend themselves if Preston’s legislation is enacted, and would certainly face more legal jeopardy if they do. As Jenkins has shown by waffling on her decision not to charge the guard, progressive activists may matter more than any actual evidence of self-defense in San Francisco, and Preston’s proposal could be easily used to justify charging others who act in legitimate self-defense. This is a terrible response to the Walgreen’s shooting, but given San Fran’s far-left tilt, it’s probably going to be approved in the very near future.