San Francisco D.A. releases video of guard killing alleged shoplifter, will not file charges

Demonstrators hold a banner reading "Justice for Banko Brown!"
Demonstrators in San Francisco protest prosecutors’ decision not to charge a Walgreens security guard in the fatal shooting of an alleged shoplifter.
(Scott Strazzante / San Francisco Chronicle)

The San Francisco district attorney’s office released video showing a Walgreens security guard fatally shooting an unarmed man he suspected of shoplifting, footage that prosecutors said does not support filing charges against the guard.

Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony shot and killed Banko Brown, 24, on April 27 at the store in the 800 block of Market Street downtown after confronting Brown and telling him to return the items. The shooting set off a local firestorm, with some calling for murder charges to be brought.

“Based on the criminal investigation, review of evidence, and evaluation of the case, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to support the filing of criminal charges against Anthony,” the district attorney’s office said in a report released Monday.


The office also released video of the incident captured on a store security camera, a cellphone video taken by a bystander and police body camera footage of an interview with Anthony.

“Given the totality of the circumstances, including the threat that Anthony believed, and could reasonably believe,” the report continued, “the evidence shows that Brown’s shooting was not a criminal act because Anthony acted in lawful self-defense.”

Video shows ex-San Francisco Fire Commissioner Don Carmignani being struck in the head with a metal pipe. Defense attorneys for the suspect say it was an act of self-defense that followed a series of bear-spray attacks on homeless people.

May 11, 2023

“That is not something that we normally do in criminal cases,” Dist. Atty. Brooke Jenkins said at a news conference Monday. “But this, as we know, is an extraordinary set of circumstances that have had growing concern among San Franciscans and even beyond.”

The announcement that no charges would be sought came two weeks after Jenkins said a murder case against Anthony was off the table.

“The killing of Banko Brown was a tragedy & my heart breaks for his friends & family,” Jenkins tweeted May 1. “After careful review, we are not pursuing murder charges at this time because of credible evidence of reasonable self-defense. It is my duty to follow the law & evidence wherever it may lead.”

But John Burris, the attorney for Brown’s family, said he believes the newly released video shows Anthony was “always the most aggressive.”


“There doesn’t appear to be any basis for deadly force,” Burris said in an interview with The Times.

VIDEO | 01:30
Video shows fatal shooting of Banko Brown in San Francisco

The footage, captured by a Walgreens security camera and released by the San Francisco district attorney’s office, shows the moments that preceded the shooting on April 27.

Brown, who had experienced homelessness and housing insecurity since he was a child, worked as an organizer for the San Francisco-based Young Women’s Freedom Center, which supports girls, young women and transgender youth.

“Armed force is not a justified response to poverty,” the center said in a statement. “We do not need to see the video to know that Banko Brown’s killing was unjustified.”

In the soundless video, which Burris pushed to be released, Brown can be seen walking around the store holding a bag. Brown walks to the store’s exit but is blocked by Anthony.

The situation quickly escalates into a fight. Anthony wrestles Brown to the ground, at one point putting him in a headlock.


Anthony gets off of Brown and stands up, holding what appears to be a gun in his right hand. Brown also stands up, grabs his bag from the floor and begins to walk out the open door. He then turns to face Anthony, who was following him.

San Franciscos urban problems are a challenge; they are also an opportunity. Plus, Tchaikovsky orgasms and a 23-year-old apology, in our weekly arts newsletter

May 13, 2023

According to the district attorney’s report, Anthony told investigators that Brown had threatened to stab him and that he “did not know what to expect.” No knife was found on Brown, police said.

The pair appear to exchange words before Anthony shoots Brown, who falls out of the store and onto the sidewalk. Anthony told police he shot after Brown advanced toward him.

A witness told investigators that Brown had “lunged” at Anthony and spit in his face just before the shooting, according to the report.

“You have a situation where this [security officer] was in fact being aggressive, creating this confrontation, and then using deadly force to end it, claiming that his life was in danger when Banko was unarmed and was not physically threatening,” Burris said.

But Jenkins said viewers should consider the additional documents and videos released Monday.

“With a video that has no sound, no audio to it, it is difficult to have context to what is going on. And that is why we must listen to the security guard statement, the witness statements and everything else in order to look at the full picture of the incident,” Jenkins said.

Brown’s father was “extremely pained” and hoped to see a prosecution, Burris said. He added that he plans to bring a wrongful-death suit against Anthony and the security company and will push for California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta to examine the case.

“To me it looks like a manslaughter case,” Burris said. “Another D.A. could look at it entirely differently and see that you could prosecute this case if there were skillful prosecutors involved.”