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San Francisco DA Charges Police Officer With Manslaughter In 2017 Shooting Of Unarmed Man Who Died From Injuries In 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A San Francisco police officer was charged with manslaughter Tuesday for a 2017 shooting of Sean Moore, an unarmed Black man shot during a confrontation with officers outside his home and who died in 2020 from complications resulting from his injuries.

Police officer Kenneth Cha shot Moore on January 6, 2017 on the steps of his home on the 500 block of Capitol Ave in the city's Oceanview neighborhood after officers has responded to a 4 a.m. noise complaint from a neighbor who had a noise restraining order against Moore.

Police said Moore, who family members described as mentally ill, was combative with officers. Police said during the confrontation he kicked an officer in the face, retreated back into the house, then came back out and punched another officer who was wielding a baton before advancing on Cha who opened fire, hitting Moore twice.

However, body cam video from the officers showed Moore was trying to avoid baton strikes and retreat back into his house at the time he was shot.

Sean Moore
Sean Moore (Anti Police-Terror Project)

On Tuesday, San Francisco District Attorney Boudin said after a review of the case, his office presented an affidavit and supporting evidence to a judge, who reviewed it and issued a warrant for Cha's arrest. He is charged with voluntary manslaughter, assault with a semi-automatic firearm, enhancements for personal use of a firearm, and infliction of great bodily injury.

The case is the second homicide prosecution against an on-duty law enforcement officer in San Francisco history.

"We rely on officers to follow their training and to deescalate situations; instead, in just eight minutes, Officer Cha elevated a nonviolent encounter to one that took Sean Moore's life. Sean Moore was unarmed and at his own home when Officer Cha shot him twice," said Boudin in a prepared statement. "After a thorough investigation, my office is holding Officer Cha accountable for the death of Sean Moore, whom he lacked a lawful basis to even arrest. When officers inflict unwarranted violence in flagrant disregard of their training, it denigrates the hard work of other police officers and shatters the trust our community places in law enforcement. Rebuilding that trust requires us to hold those officers who inflict unlawful violence accountable."

Officer body cam video showed Moore repeatedly telling officers to get off his property and that he didn't want to speak with them. Moore said he knew about the restraining order, denied harassing his neighbor and said he had been sweeping his stairs and removing his trash. However, officers ordered Moore to come outside of his house, telling him he was under arrest, and Cha threatened to kick in his front door gate if Moore did not come outside on his own.

The shooting lacerated Moore's liver and struck his right colon, scarring internal organs and causing severe abdominal adhesions. Moore died in January 2020; the coroner's office indicated the cause of death was homicide and that he died from acute intestinal obstruction as a result of the bullet wounds.

Moore was initially charged with a number of felonies and misdemeanors, but charges were dismissed after the judge said officers were acting outside the scope of their duties when they remained on Moore's property after he declined to be questioned. An appeals court reaffirmed the finding in 2018.

"This was a very minor event. If the police officer had de-escalated, it wouldn't have happened. He created the confrontation, created a conflict and shot his way out of it," said civil rights attorney John Burris, who represented Moore's family. "I think it's important for the community to know that the DA's office, wherever, they will look at the cases more closely than not. You can improve the relationship between the police and community if the community knows that the police are going to be held accountable."

Earlier this year, the city of San Francisco settled a lawsuit filed by Moore's family for $3.25 million—the largest settlement of its kind in recent history, the DA's office said.

"The shooting of Sean Moore, an unarmed Black man, by San Francisco police is yet another example of unlawful use of deadly force that, according to the Marin County's coroner's office, led to Mr. Moore's untimely death. Police officers in San Francisco and throughout the nation continue to escalate situations that call for de-escalation and the intervention of mental health clinicians," said a prepared statement from Yoel Y. Haile, Director Criminal Justice Program, ACLU of Northern California.

Cha was involved in a second shooting in San Francisco four months after the Moore shooting. In May 2020, Cha shot and killed a knife-wielding man at a Market St. Subway restaurant who had attacked and stabbed an employee.

San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya responded to the charges against Cha in the shooting of Moore with the following statement: "Officers responded to a call for service and encountered the very hostile Sean Moore who was accused of violating a restraining order. We support Officer Cha's constitutionally protected right to present his defense against these charges that stemmed from this extremely volatile incident that an autopsy concluded took Mr. Moore's life while he was serving time in prison on another matter."

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