Parents of Banko Brown file $25 million wrongful death lawsuit
SAN FRANCISCO - The parents of a transgender man fatally shot by a Walgreens security guard in San Francisco last month are seeking at least $25 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Walgreens, its parent company, a security firm and the guard who shot him, a civil rights attorney for the parents said Friday.
Banko Brown's parents filed the suit after guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony shot and killed Brown on April 27 at a Walgreens store on Market Street. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins declined to file charges against Anthony for the shooting, concluding that he acted in self-defense.
Brown allegedly threatened to stab Anthony, a statement that civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing Brown's parents, said is not corroborated by witnesses.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta confirmed that his office will investigate Jenkins' decision to see if she made one contrary to the evidence, which would be an "abuse of discretion."
Brown was allegedly shoplifting about $16 of candy from Walgreens. Burris said Anthony intercepted Brown as he was leaving the store and a scuffle ensued. Following the scuffle, Brown exchanged words with Anthony but was backing up and outside of the store with no weapon in his hand when Anthony shot him.
"This was not self-defense," said Burris, whose firm works primarily on police cases, so his attorneys are familiar with the laws around the use of force.
He said the security guard could have walked away. Burris maintained that stores have a right to protect themselves from theft.
But "death, deadly force, is not the way to handle it," he said.
Burris thinks the security guard could have de-escalated the situation and had a conversation with Brown.
Banko Brown's mother Kevinisha Henderson and father Terry Brown are alleging the defendants are guilty of negligence. Anthony, among other things, allegedly used force greater than necessary given the threat posed by Brown, according to the complaint.
"Anthony's failure to exercise reasonable care was the proximate cause of Mr. Brown's death," the complaint said.
Anthony's employer, Kingdom Group Protective Services, is vicariously liable for Brown's death and Walgreens and its parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance are liable because Anthony was acting as their agent, according to the complaint.
The suit is also seeking damages from Walgreens, its parent company and Kingdom Group Protective Services due to negligent hiring, training and supervision of Anthony, the complaint said.
Anthony allegedly had an agitated state of mind during the encounter, Burris said. He alleged Anthony said he was tired of shoplifters and that a person can only take so much.
The security firm sent to Walgreens a guard who was "emotionally unfit to be out there," Burris said.
Brown's parents are furthermore seeking damages related to battery against their son, among other civil violations.
The parents declined to speak to reporters at a news conference Friday afternoon at Burris' law firm in Oakland, but Burris said they want Anthony charged with murder.
"We are fully cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation of this extremely unfortunate incident and are deeply saddened by the loss of Banko Brown's life," said Marlon D'Oyen with Kingdom Group Protective Services. "At this time, we are not permitted to comment further."'
Neither Walgreens nor its parent company responded to an email seeking comment on the suit. Attempts to reach Anthony by phone Friday morning were unsuccessful.
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