SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter for shooting a mentally ill and unarmed man in the city's Oceanview neighborhood in 2017, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Tuesday.
Officer Kenneth Cha faces the manslaughter count as well as an assault with a deadly weapon charge and enhancements for the shooting of Sean Moore on Jan. 6, 2017. Moore ended up dying in 2020 as a result of his injuries, prosecutors said.
The District Attorney's Office said the case is only 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," Boudin said in a statement.
The San Francisco District Attorney's office referenced Moore's autopsy Tuesday saying:
The gunshots lacerated Mr. Moore's liver and struck his right colon, scarring internal organs and causing severe abdominal adhesions. Mr. Moore died on January 20, 2020; the coroners' report indicated the cause of death was homicide and that he died from Acute Intestinal Obstruction as a result of the bullet wounds.
Moore was shot in the early morning hours at his home in the 500 block of Capitol Avenue after Cha and another officer had responded to a neighbor's complaint that Mr. Moore was violating a temporary restraining order that prohibited noise harassment.. The shooting was captured on the officers' body-worn camera footage and was the first shooting involving San Francisco police after the department had rolled out the cameras to officers.
Moore's mother said her son had a history of mental illness and that officers should be deescalated the situation before Cha shot him. Moore was initially charged in connection with the case, but all charges were dropped later in 2017.
San Francisco settled a lawsuit filed by Moore's family for $3.25 million earlier this year, with civil rights attorney John Burris representing the family.
Burris said he was "pleasantly surprised" that Cha had been charged for shooting Moore.
"I'm hopeful that this represents sort of a new day" with more officers being charged in use of force cases, he said, noting a few other cases filed and prosecuted against law enforcement in the region recently.
Officer Kenneth Cha's attorney Scott Burrell issued this statement:
"District Attorney Chesa Boudin's decision to file charges against Officer Kenneth Cha is surprising and disappointing. Since 2017, both District Attorney Boudin's administration, as well as the prior administration, declined to file charges against Officer Cha on these very same facts. The only new "fact" is that Boudin is now facing a recall election. Further, Boudin's attempts to explain his decision to file charges fall flat. In 2017, the District Attorney's office filed felony charges against Sean Moore for the violent assault on Officer Cha and his partner, and Moore was held to answer on those charges in the Superior Court. Now, over five years later, Boudin argues that Moore did nothing wrong, and Officer Cha committed a crime. The facts of this case have never changed. Officer Cha lawfully shot his firearm while defending himself and his partner against a dangerous and violent assault. Only naked politics at best are at play here."
The San Francisco Police Officers Association, which has been sharply critical of Boudin's criminal charging decisions in several cases, issued a statement Tuesday about the charges filed against Cha.
"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," SFPOA president Tony Montoya said.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.