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News + PoliticsCrimeBanko Brown video is horrifying—as is the response of the district attorney

Banko Brown video is horrifying—as is the response of the district attorney

Attorney John Burris says Walgreens 'sent out an unguided missile.' Now a young Black trans man is dead.


As I wrote last week, I don’t see how Brooke Jenkins and London Breed get out of this.

Jenkins was forced by public pressure, and pressure from all 11 supervisors, to release today the video, police reports, and her justification for declining to file charges against the Walgreen’s security guard who shot and killed Banko Brown, an unarmed Black trans man.

And the video is exceptionally bad.

Some 200 people showed up for a march that ended at City Hall. Photo by Steve Rhodes.

It shows the guard, Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, beating the crap out of the much-smaller Brown, who had a bag filled with maybe $14 worth of candy and was headed for the door.

The security company employed by Walgreens had recently changed its policy (I am assuming at the direction of the drug chain) and told its armed guards to actively seek to engage shoplifters and take their goods back:

On the date of the incident, KGPS, who would change its policies concerning the role of security guards sometimes daily by direct news feed to their employees, had recently changed the policy concerning what their guard-employees were to do in the way of active recovery of property from persons seen stealing merchandise from the Walgreens. On April 27, 2023, the instructions to guard personnel was to engage in “hands-on” recovery of merchandise. The guards were also allowed to request receipts for merchandise, but in any event they were to actively work to retrieve or recover any stolen items once it was clear that the individual who concealed the items intended to leave the store without paying.

In this case, when Brown didn’t return the items, Anthony lifted him up, shook him around, punched him, threw him on the ground and at one point appeared to use a choke hold.

This is all over $14 worth of merchandise.

Then the video shows Anthony releasing Brown, who walks out the door then turns toward the guard, who immediately opens fire.

In an interview with SFPD,

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. And that because of the physical resistance, aggression, and perception that Brown intended to “fight” him, Anthony feared that if he released Brown from the hold he had Brown in, that Brown would then stab him.

Okay: Here was a guard with a gun, who was not trained in de-escalation by SFPD and not required to abide by the city’s detailed policies on use of force by police officers, ordered by his superiors who work for Walgreens to interdict shoplifters, including by force.

As John Burris, who is representing Brown’s family, told me tonight, Anthony “was the aggressor … Banko Brown has nothing in his hand. He was trying to get out.

“Walgreens sent out an unguided missile, a person who was not a police officer and not properly trained, and then set up this man for what he did. … absolutely, Walgreens bears some responsibility for this.”

He noted: “It is dumbfounding to believe that the DA doesn’t see any criminal conduct here. This shooting was deadly wrong.”

The entire Breed-Jenkins narrative that San Francisco is a crime-ridden hellhole, created to oust former DA Chesa Boudin, and the radical economic inequality this city seen under the past two mayor administrations, is having a brutal, lethal impact.

Walgreens hires gun-toting guards, and one kills a person over $14. The DA lets it slide, saying in essence that if you have a gun and claim you are afraid of someone, you can shoot and kill—even if that person is unarmed.

At least 200 people rallied tonight. Sup. Shamann Walton said:

I have watched the video several times, Banko Brown was clearly walking backwards, after being thrown to the ground, punched, and abused by the security guard for several seconds. The security guard successfully subdues Banko and lets him go. Banko walks backwards and is executed. The security guard had the upper hand the entire time and even told Banko that he was letting him go as stated in the transcript released by the DA. Where is the perceived threat? 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.

Sup. Dean Preston:

I am horrified by this video which appears to show Banko Brown being executed for shoplifting. I do not understand how the District Attorney could have reviewed this video and concluded that the guard ‘believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self defense.’

Sup. Aaron Peskin is calling on the attorney general and the US Department of Justice to investigate why Jenkins didn’t file charges.

Breed is standing behind her DA.

This is going to be a major political issue, and it’s not going away.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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