In further evidence that District Attorney Brooke Jenkins may not be as aggressive in her pursuit of police reform and accountability as her predecessors, the Chronicle has found that Jenkins has less than half the number of attorneys and fewer investigators working in the unit responsible for investigating police abuses.
Fast on the heels of Jenkins' announcement that she would be dropping a prominent police-shooting case brought by predecessor Chesa Boudin, a Chronicle investigation finds that the Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB) within the DA's Office, established under former DA George Gascón, has dwindled to two prosecutor and four investigators — down from six attorneys and six investigators under Boudin.
And Gascón's chief of staff, Cristine Soto DeBerry, spoke to the Chronicle saying she's "been very concerned with how this work has slowly been dismantled" under Jenkins.
Jenkins responded saying that "hiring doesn’t really work under a timeline" and she's been intent on finding the right people for the open positions. And, to be fair, in November 2020, 11 months into his tenure as DA, Boudin was quoted as calling out Gascón's IIB as "extremely unproductive," and saying that he was still in the process of "rebuilding" the unit to his own liking.
As has been discussed since Jenkins took office last summer, it's typical for incoming DAs to "clean house" and replace a lot of staff with their own hires.
But is Jenkins perhaps slow-rolling the further prosecution of SFPD officers in an effort to change the tenor of things, after Boudin set a clear path of making zero friends in the SFPD when he took office?
Last week, Jenkins announced she would be dropping the manslaughter charges against SFPD Officer Chris Samayoa, whom Boudin charged two years ago in what was seen as a milestone case, for the 2017 officer-involved shooting of an unarmed man, Keita O’Neil. Boudin said Samayoa acted with "criminal negligence," and he said at the time, "In San Francisco there has been a long history of officer-involved shootings leading to no accountability whatsoever, further cementing the idea that police are above the law. That stops now." Meanwhile Jenkins said the case was "filed for political reasons and not in the interests of justice."
But is Jenkins playing politics in the opposite direction?
She tells the Chronicle she's in the process of bringing on a second prosecutor for the IIB, bringing the attorney level back to half of what it was last June, and that the unit may need one more attorney, but not the six it had before. "You have to have appropriate people apply, interview them and ensure that who you hire has that level of experience and ethics that you want," Jenkins said.
The current lead attorney in the IIB, Darby Williams, also worked in it when Gascón set it up, and she allegedly complained about the unit's state late summer in an internal email obtained by the Chronicle. She said it was in disarray under Boudin, and "high turnover of personnel assigned to the Unit and their lack of understanding or concern about the Unit's purpose." Boudin's staff pushes back on that, and everyone is accusing everyone else of playing politics to their own ends.
Boudin gave a quote to the Chronicle, regarding Jenkins, saying, "She is deeply politically motivated, and she does not care about victims of police violence."
Previously: DA Will Indeed Drop Prosecution of Keita O’Neil Police Shooting Case, Says State Can Take It If They Want
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