by Sandy Malone and Christopher Berg
San Francisco, CA – Newly-elected District Attorney Chesa Boudin has dropped charges on Friday against a man who was shot while beating a police officer with a vodka bottle.
The move comes after community outrage over the shooting and claims that the shooting was unjustified, despite the video evidence showing otherwise.
Boudin says that he dropped the charges against the 24-year-old suspect, Jamaica Hampton, because his office is investigating the officers for shooting Hampton.
“It would be problematic to ask the officers to testify while they are under investigation,” Boudin told the San Francisco Examiner. Boudin’s office has three years to re-file charges if they choose to do so.
However, dropping charges against a suspect simply because there is an investigation into police use of force is extremely abnormal and unnecessary.
To make the situation more bizarre, the entire incident was captured on video which shows the officers attempting to de-escalate, use less-lethal weapons, and flee from the unprovoked attack before the shooting.
San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya sent a letter to members claiming an entirely different reason for the charges being dropped.
“The charging sheet informs the officers, in essence, anything flowing from enforcing a quality of life violation will likely not be prosecuted,” the letter said. “In other words, if you get seriously injured while addressing a neighbor’s quality of life problem, the suspect’s assault case will not be prosecuted.”
“Our lives don’t matter,” Montoya’s letter declared.
The incident which led up to the shooting began when police received a report of a “hot prowl burglary” at 7:47 a.m. on Dec. 7 during which the male suspect had forced open the door of an apartment in the 900-block of Capp Street, according to KPIX.
The suspect fled the scene before police arrived five minutes later, but a few minutes later, 911 received another call nearby about a man who was trying to break into parked cars.
Officers searched the area and found Hampton wearing clothing that matched the description of the suspect, KPIX reported.
The officers stopped their patrol SUV and attempted to make contact with Hampton at an intersection after he crossed the street right in front of their vehicle, surveillance video showed.
The passenger door of the SUV opened and surveillance footage from nearby cameras showed that Hampton turned around and lunged the officer in the passenger seat.
Police said Hampton “aggressively advanced” on the San Francisco Police Officer Sterling Hayes with a 200 ml glass vodka bottle and attacked him, KPIX reported.
His partner, San Francisco Police Officer Christopher Flores jumped out from the driver’s side and rushed around the rear of the vehicle to help.
But before Officer Flores had made his way around the back of the SUV, Hampton was rushing at him while brandishing the bottle, KPIX reported.
Hampton repeatedly struck Officer Flores in the face and on the head with the bottle, causing lacerations to his cheek under his right eye, the video showed.
Officer Hayes jumped into the fray to help his partner and Hampton took off down the sidewalk, with the officers right behind him.
Both officers repeatedly told Hampton to drop the bottle and to get on the ground but he ignored them, KPIX reported.
They attempted to deploy pepper spray at the suspect but were unsuccessful.
The video showed that both officers drew their weapons as Hampton played a game of cat-and-mouse with them, dodging across the street and onto the opposite sidewalk before he turned and rushed directly at Officer Hayes with the bottle still in his right hand.
Officer Hayes opened fire on Hampton, the video showed.
He fired six shots and Hampton dropped to the ground.
But the video showed the suspect didn’t stay down.
A split-second later, Hampton got back onto his feet and Officer Flores fired one shot to knock him down again, the video showed.
The video showed Officer Hayes ran back close to the suspect at that point and told Officer Flores to stop shooting.
Then he began yelling “Render aid! Render aid!” over and over as he pulled on gloves.
The video showed that Officer Flores bent over and started to take the suspect into custody, but Officer Hayes yelled at him to “glove up” first and then “render aid!”
Officer Hayes’ bodycam filmed the entire incident but Officer Flores’ bodycam was knocked off when Hampton initially attacked him, KPIX reported.
As other officers and supervisors arrived on the scene, Officer Hayes’ bodycam captured the officer becoming very upset about having had to shoot the suspect.
“Godd—it man, f–k! I didn’t want to do this! I didn’t want to f–king do this!” he told another officer repeatedly.
Once the ambulance arrived on the scene, the Officer Hayes’s bodycam captured audio as the officer began to sob.
The video showed that Officer Flores, clutching an ice pack to his bleeding face, stood with Officer Hayes and kept a hand on his arm as his partner wept.
“I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to do it,” Officer Hayes told a female sergeant who arrived on the scene. “I tried to pepper spray him – I got myself.”
Hampton was transported to San Francisco General Hospital where he remains in critical condition, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has charged Hampton with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism.
Police played the surveillance and bodycam video for a packed room of community members at Cesar Chavez Elementary School on Tuesday night, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott told angry community members that it was too soon to judge the officers’ actions and explained that a bottle is in fact considered a deadly weapon by law.
“Mr. Hampton was still holding the glass bottle and closed the distance between himself and the passenger officer. The passenger officer discharged his issued duty weapon,” San Francisco Police Commander Robert O’Sullivan read in a statement about what caused the officers to shoot Hampton.
“After being shot, Mr. Hampton went down to the ground, rose to his knees and then began to move in the direction of the injured driver officer. The injured driver officer discharged his duty weapon,” Commander O’Sullivan said.
Angry residents at the meeting said the officers had behaved like cowards in shooting Hampton and questioned whether the shooting was justified, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
One of Hampton’s friends characterized the video as showing the suspect running away from police.
Eve Greenberg told the San Francisco Chronicle that she was “disgusted” by the video and “seeing my friend look like a scared animal, not knowing where to move.”
This was the first officer-involved shooting in San Francisco since June of 2018, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below: