Both the Officer and the Victim Have Been Indicted in a 2019 Police Shooting in San Francisco

Illustration for article titled Both the Officer and the Victim Have Been Indicted in a 2019 Police Shooting in San Francisco
Screenshot: San Francisco Police Department/ Body camera footage

On December 7, 2019, in San Francisco’s Mission District, a 24-year-old Black man was shot multiple times by two officers with the San Francisco Police Department. Jamaica Hampton—a burglary suspect whose leg was later amputated due to his injuries—allegedly attacked one of the officers with a liquor bottle before the shooting started, but his attorney said one officer continued to fire shots after he was already down. Exactly one year after the shooting, officials announced that both the Black man and the officer have been indicted on charges related to the incident.

NBC News reports that San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced the grand jury indictments on Monday without specifying what either man is charged with.

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Last year, now-25-year-old Jamaica Hampton was arrested after the shooting and charged with suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a peace officer and other crimes. Boudin withdrew those charges in January saying that the officer, Christopher Flores, is under investigation and that there are “multiple victims who are seeking, and who deserve justice.”

Here’s what happened as reported by NBC:

In a statement last December, police said the shooting occurred after authorities were alerted to multiple attempted break-ins at an apartment and police cars.

After two officers, Flores and Sterling Hayes, identified Hampton as a potential suspect, Hampton allegedly struck Flores in the head with a vodka bottle repeatedly. The alleged assault injured Flores and caused him to lose his baton, police said.

Hampton’s lawyer, Danielle Harris, said Monday that he was experiencing a “crisis state due to a pre-existing behavioral health condition” when he encountered the officers.

Body camera video appears to show Hampton running away from Flores and Hayes while they order him to the ground. The statement said officers also used pepper spray, which had no effect.

After Hampton allegedly charged Hayes with a bottle, the officer opened fire, striking Hampton, who fell to the ground, police said.

The video shows that several seconds later, after Hayes announced “shots fired,” Flores fires again at Hampton.

In the statement, police said the final bullet was fired after Hampton “rose to his knees and then began to move” in the officer’s direction.

Harris told NBC that her client had been shot repeatedly, “even after he was injured and down. Jamaica has been punished far more than the law would ever allow.”

“I don’t believe that our legal system or community have anything to gain from prosecuting Jamaica Hampton given the swift and severe street justice that was dealt to him by police,” she continued.

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Of course, law enforcement officials are just as displeased that Flores was indicted.

According to Mission Local, San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya and Police Chief Bill Scott both released statements Monday criticizing the decision.

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“Jamaica was the aggressor,” Montoya wrote, “And Officer Flores acted to protect his own life and to protect the public.”

“While I find today’s indictment surprising and troubling based on the circumstances,” Scott said, “I have faith in our judicial system and confidence that justice will ultimately be done in this case.”

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

whypeepoegottastop
I'mSofaKingSickofWonderBread

Hampton may have been the aggressor, but if someone cuts me off on a bridge, and my reaction is to run them off the bridge, then I am guilty of murder.

Yes, I could argue that the person I just murdered was at fault too, but ultimately, cutting someone off does not absolve one of willfully taking violent action.