Video shows Banko Brown shooting; DA will not press charges


A security guard who confronted and killed a suspected shoplifter at a San Francisco Walgreens fired a single shot as the man backed onto the sidewalk moments after he turned and made a slight movement toward the security guard, like a new published surveillance video shows.

The video is important evidence of District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ decision not to prosecute the security guard for the April 27 shooting that sparked protests and an already tense debate about criminal justice and the actions retailers should take to stop retail thefts to stop, caused an uproar. Jenkins said she was not swayed by public opinion, citing the security guard’s claim to self-defense in a violent altercation that began in connection with Banko Brown’s alleged shoplifting.

Surveillance footage shows the altercation between Walgreens security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony and Banko Brown that preceded Anthony’s fatal shooting of Brown. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said she will not charge Anthony with a felony. The Chronicle flipped the video for clarity. Video: San Francisco District Attorney’s Office

In a report released Monday, Jenkins set out her decision to drop charges against Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony for Brown’s murder, an incident that quickly escalated after Anthony intercepted Brown at the store’s front door.

Jenkins’ account includes footage of the ensuing scuffle, shooting, and gathering of bystanders as Brown lay on the sidewalk at 825 Market St.; Body worn camera video of paramedics attempting life saving operations on Brown; and a video of Anthony being questioned by homicide detectives.

Anthony accused Brown of stealing goods, which led to an argument between the two men. The guard drew his gun when they parted and later told investigators Brown had threatened to stab him while they fought — statements witnesses could not corroborate, records show.

Brown backed toward the exit but appeared to align his body with Anthony near the door and move slightly toward the guard, moving his body

right foot forward. He had taken a few steps back when Anthony fired, hitting Brown in the chest.

As law enforcement continued their investigations, Brown’s friends and supporters organized protests that challenged Anthony’s claims of self-defense and pressured Jenkins to charge him with murder.

Supervisor Dean Preston introduced legislation to limit the use of guns by security forces, and San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener called for videos and testimony to be released. The released report and video failed to clarify the matter: a supervisor requested a second investigation by state and federal law officials.

A compilation of videos taken by bystanders following the Banko Brown shooting in San Francisco, California. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said she would not pursue charges against security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, who shot Brown. Video: San Francisco District Attorney’s Office

“This young man’s life should not have been lost over something so small,” said John Burris, an Oakland civil rights attorney who said the Brown family will sue Anthony and Walgreens. He considered Anthony and not Brown to be “the aggressor”.

But for Jenkins, anyone who sees the incident as a death penalty for petty theft has been misled.

“The way this incident played out was assuming that something was simply being taken away, to the point of using force to take it away, and someone at that moment … articulated that they needed to defend themselves,” he said Jenkins in an interview.

A store camera captured the crucial seconds as the altercation unfolded.

The security guard blocks Brown’s path as he nears the exit: At about the 45 second mark in the video above, Brown is walking toward the Walgreens exit, bag in hand. Anthony walks up to him with his hand out “as if he’s asking for something,” the prosecutor said in her report.

Brown and Anthony collide and start fighting: Two seconds later, the two men start shoving each other and Anthony punches Brown several times, who appears to be punching back as they move on the ground near the entrance.

Body slams on the floor: At 51 seconds into the video, Anthony throws Brown to the ground while Brown raises his knee, seemingly to fight back. He scrambles to his knees and crouches as if trying to get up. The two continue to squirm on the ground until Anthony manages to hold Brown on his stomach for about 20 seconds before releasing him. Even in this position, Brown struggles as if trying to free himself.

Alleged knife threats: As Anthony pinned Brown to the ground, Brown threatened to stab him, Anthony told investigators. Much of the prosecutor’s decision not to press charges appears to stem from Anthony’s testimony that he heard stabbing threats and believed them to be credible. Police, who later searched the scene and confiscated Brown’s bag on April 27, found Walgreens merchandise and Brown’s belongings, the prosecutor’s report said, but no knife.

weapon drawn: In the video, after about a minute and a half, Brown gets up and gets his bag. According to the report, Anthony draws his gun but points it down.

Brown backs out of the store, faces Anthony, and appears to be leaning forward, fists clenched, as Anthony aims his gun and fires. Jenkins describes this stance as “a sweeping movement in Anthony’s direction.”

Two witnesses cited in the report said they saw Brown spit at Anthony, with one saying that “the spitting, the twitching, and the shooting all appeared to have happened simultaneously,” the report said.

More about the Banko Brown Shooting

“I’ve looked into the entire case and the entire decision,” Jenkins said, noting that her analysis needed to focus on what Anthony perceived during the altercation and whether he saw an imminent, reasonable threat of death or serious bodily harm.

“If you listen to his testimony, he provides a lot of substance about what he perceived and why he believed he was in imminent danger,” Jenkins said, referring to a statement Anthony gave to police after his arrest.

Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University, watched the video and looked at the district attorney’s analysis. She thought it was a “very difficult” case.

“You don’t have to be right by the law, you have to be reasonable,” Levenson said, referring to Anthony’s quick decision to shoot. “Is it reasonable to shoot before you see a knife when threatening to stab you?” she said. To them, Anthony’s lack of law enforcement experience — he’s not a police officer and likely has less experience in life-threatening scenarios — could bolster the legal argument of self-defense and lower the threshold for him to reasonably assume his life is in danger.

During a three-hour interrogation with homicide inspectors from just after midnight to 3am on April 28, Anthony said he ordered Brown to return items to the shelves – following a new policy from his employer Kingdom Group Protective Services, which the guards instructed to participate in the practical recovery of stolen goods. Then Brown got combative and said he wanted to stab Anthony, the security guard told investigators, without ever producing a knife.

“That really scared me,” Anthony told investigators.

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