“I believe the judge already made his mind up.” Aunt of man shot dead by SFPD

Lee Heidhues 5.6.2022

The chaos at the Hall of Justice on Friday is illustrative of what’s at stake as reactionary forces try to bring down Progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Boudin ran and was elected on a platform of  Justice for all. Which means holding renegade cops accountable for their law breaking. 

The forces of law and order are spending millions to oust Boudin and give free rein to the cops, once again.

Excerpted from Mission Local 5.6.2022

On Friday San Francisco Superior Court Judge Russell Roeca pushed back the preliminary hearing of former SFPD Officer Chris Samayoa, who shot dead Keita “Icky” O’Neil in 2017.

The hearing was delayed until July, a decision that caused outrage among O’Neil’s supporters, who were thrown out of court for the outburst.

“I’m so emotional, this is affecting me more than I thought it would,” said April Green, O’Neil’s aunt who attended Friday’s hearing at the Hall of Justice. “I was believing in a system that I thought was fair. I don’t know how to respond to this.”

“Oh my God,” Green loudly said from the second row, appearing in disbelief. “Oh my God, oh my God.”

A sheriff’s deputy on the opposite side of the room told Green to quiet down.

James Conger, an attorney with the District Attorney’s office who is prosecuting Samayoa, argued the defense is “doing District Attorney shopping. In other words, the recall is in June, and they hope it succeeds and they’ll get a better deal with a different District Attorney,” he said during the hearing.

“April, please,” Conger told her quietly from his podium.

The side of the courtroom where O’Neil’s supporters sat then began speaking frustratedly. One young man in the third row said something to a deputy, causing a deputy to approach and chastise him. “Step outside,” he ordered. Green and another woman seated in the row ahead began calling to the deputy, telling him to bother them instead of the young man. Suddenly the court erupted in chaos, with O’Neil’s supporters talking over each other and four deputies swarming the area.

50 Courtoom Chaos 5.6.2022
Keita O’Neil shot dead by SF cop Chris Samoya 12.1.2017

“You’re fucking with us, you fuckin’ pigs,” O’Neil’s supporters said as they left the courtroom. 

“The judge has ordered the court closed,” another deputy yelled. “If you fail to leave, you will be detained.”

“Are you serious?” O’Neil’s supporters said. One woman at the front said, “You are evil. Evil. Evil!”  

O’Neil’s group walked out, and a deputy locked the door. Meanwhile, Judge Roeca told Samoya’s defense attorney Julia Fox the hearing would occur on July 14.

Green stood out in the hallway of the Hall of Justice in a ring of supporters with Conger, looking forlorn. She bemoaned that without a district attorney who presses charges on police officers, Black and Latino men would be vulnerable to police use-of-force and killings.

“I believe the judge already made his mind up,” Green told Mission Local. “Did you notice how extra police officers appeared just before he gave  the decision?”

She worries the case will change with the postponement. The first time Boudin called her to let her know that he pressed charges, she was “in disbelief. A white man in a position of power cares for a minority man and brought charges. They know if he is not in office, [Samayoa] is walking.” 

Chesa in Court 5.7.2021
DA Chesa Boudin in San Francisco Superior Court

O’Neil’s supporters fear that postponing the matter to July may alter the case, since District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office is prosecuting Samayoa, and he faces a recall election in June. 

On Dec. 1, 2017, Samayoa shot O’Neil, who was unarmed, video footage showed. O’Neil was pursued as a potential carjacking suspect. In November 2020, District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed felony criminal charges against Samayoa for voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, excessive force, and assault with a firearm. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors granted O’Neil’s mother a $2.5 million settlement. 

Chaos erupts as judge delays hearing of officer accused of killing Keita O’Neil

Top photo – April Green, the aunt of Keita O’Neil, talking to supporters after she and others were thrown out of the courtroom in the Hall of Justice. Attorney James Conger, right, is prosecuting Officer Chris Samayoa for the shooting of O’Neil in 2017.