The suspect in last week's fatal shooting at the Walgreens near Union Square, who is a security guard employed by the store, has been released from custody without charges.
The shooting occurred on the evening of April 27, and claimed the life of 24-year-old Banko Brown of San Francisco. Brown is suspected of attempted shoplifting, and witnesses have described an altercation between Brown and the suspect that resulted in the fatal shot being fired.
The victim, who identified as a transgender man, was initially misgendered by witnesses in media reports, and identified by media sources by his deadname.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins issued a statement late Monday saying that her office would not be filing charges against 33-year-old suspect Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony because there is insufficient evidence to convict on a murder or manslaughter charge.
"The evidence clearly shows that the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense," Jenkins said in the statement. “We cannot bring forward charges when there is credible evidence of reasonable self-defense. Doing so would be unethical and create false hope for a successful prosecution."
Jenkins said, in an interview with the Chronicle, that "both threats of force and physical force were used" on the part of Brown, though Jenkins "declin[ed] to divulge further details including whether Brown was allegedly armed."
The Chronicle also confirmed that Anthony was licensed to carry a handgun as a private security guard.
SFPD Chief Bill Scott describes the incident as "a shoplift that went bad."
The shooting prompted a protest outside the Walgreens Monday by Brown's friends and family. As KPIX reports, the Young Women’s Freedom Center, an organization that works to reduce the incarceration of young women and transgender youth where Brown volunteered, organized the protest. The protest appears to have occurred before the announcement that Anthony was being released without charges.
The Center has started a GoFundMe for funeral expenses for Brown's family, and on the campaign page, organizer Julia Arroyo writes, "Banko was beloved by a big community. He was brilliant and made everyone laugh... Banko had also struggled with housing instability for over a decade. He worked tirelessly, making consistent calls for shelter and other basic needs... He was criminalized and lost his life trying to survive."
Speaking to KRON4, Brown’s mother Kevinisha Henderson says, "When they watched the video, there was absolutely no reason for him to do what he did."
Henderson added, "I don’t understand why a Walgreens security guard would have a gun."
"This was a senseless death," said Brown’s stepmother, Barbra Brown, speaking to the Chronicle.
"It's insane that Walgreens even has armed security," said a friend of the victim, Jessica Nowlan, speaking with KPIX. "There's nothing in that store worth a human life."
BART board member Lateefah Simon, who previously served as executive director of the Young Women’s Freedom Center, told the Chronicle that Brown's death is symptomatic of larger issues of income inequality and poverty in the city. "We have basic human rights not being met," Simon said.