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Video of Black Trans Man's Killing Released, Calls for Justice Continue

Video of Black Trans Man's Killing Released, Calls for Justice Continue

Banko Brown and Brooke Jenkins

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins faces criticism for not bringing charges against the security guard who shot Banko Brown to death.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has released the surveillance video of the death of transgender man Banko Brown, but it isn’t quieting criticism of her decision not to charge the security guard who killed him.

Brown, 24, was shot to death just outside a Walgreens April 27. He was unarmed. Police arrested the guard, Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, 33, on suspicion of homicide but released him soon afterward, with Jenkins saying, “The evidence clearly shows that the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense.”

Jenkins has been criticized by San Francisco officials, activists, and Brown’s family for not bringing charges, and some have questioned the need for stores to have armed guards. Jenkins had initially refused to release the video, saying the investigation was ongoing, but she made it available Monday, along with a 25-page report laying out why she didn’t charge Anthony, according to The Bay Area Reporter.

Anthony confronted Brown, an unhoused man who was shoplifting, the report says. The video shows Anthony pushing and punching Brown.

“During the struggle, Anthony reports that Brown repeatedly threatened to stab him,” it states. “Anthony had Brown pinned down and released Brown after telling Brown repeatedly that he would let Brown go if Brown calmed down. Anthony released Brown, stepped back, and drew his firearm because of the stabbing threats, but pointed the firearm at the ground. Brown grabbed the bag of goods off the floor, made for the exit, then turned and lunged in Anthony's direction, after which the shot was fired. Anthony said he shot because he was in fear for his safety.”

John Burris, a lawyer retained by Brown’s family, questioned whether Brown actually made the threat. It wasn’t mentioned in another media outlet’s interview with Anthony, and it could have been “just made up afterward,” Burris told the Reporter.

Jenkins responded by telling the publication, “We, of course, had not related specific facts of the incident prior to today because we wanted to flesh out the investigation and make sure it was done in an ethical way. I’ve talked very generally before but no specifics until now.”

The report also says, “Anthony told inspectors that Brown was telling him as they ‘wrestled’ that Brown said repeatedly: ‘I’m going to stab you! I’m going to stab your ass! Anthony told inspectors that while he did not see anything in Brown’s hand, he was not certain that Brown did not have the ability to make good on the threat.”

Burris remains unconvinced that the guard’s action was justified. It seemed Anthony “was agitated, afterward I hear, about constant petty theft,” the lawyer told the Reporter. “It seems to me the officer was being aggressive, physically controlling, and beating up on Banko, who ultimately broke loose and went out the door. He turned and was facing him, and he was shot. I haven’t seen any evidence Banko was lunging toward the officer. It seems the use of deadly force was unconscionable and unnecessary.”

“I don’t agree with the DA’s decision not to charge — at the very least, it could be a manslaughter case,” Burris added.

The city’s Board of Supervisors last week unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution calling on Jenkins to release the video. She said that did not factor into her decision, however.

Supervisor Shamann Walton, the only Black member of the board, said the video showed that Anthony “had the upper hand the entire time” and “executed” Brown. “Where is the perceived threat?” he told the Reporter. “DA Jenkins’ decision to not charge gives every armed security guard in San Francisco a license to have an open season to shoot and kill Black and transgender people for alleged shoplifting.” Walton and Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin plan to ask California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the U.S. Department of Justice to review Jenkins’s actions.

Supervisor Matt Dorsey, a supporter of Jenkins’s, said he is “disinclined to speculate on decisions that prosecutors, plaintiffs’ counsel, and others are more qualified than I to make.” He acknowledged that “today’s outcome doesn’t feel like justice to many who knew and loved Banko Brown,” but noted that a civil action could still be brought in the case.

Brown, while seeking housing for himself, was working as a community organizing intern with the Young Women’s Freedom Center, which assists young women and trans youth who have experienced poverty and other difficulties.

“Banko was a loving person,” Julia Arroyo, co-executive director of the center, said at a rally on Brown’s behalf shortly after his death. “Every time Banko walked into the center, he was surrounded by small children and a gang of people around him. And even when he was turned away from doors, he still brought people to get resources.”

The video is below. Be forewarned that it may be disturbing.

Walgreens Surveillance Video (April 27, 2023)

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