Welcome to San Fran: Charges dropped against man who attacked officer rookie with glass bottle

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A technical issue resulted in all charges being dropped against Jamaica Hampton, a man shot by San Francisco police after he attacked an officer with a glass bottle. One officer in the case is still facing charges.

Hampton, 25, had been facing assault, battery, and resisting arrest charges over the 2019 incident in the Mission District since last December. In December, a grand jury brought an indictment against both Hampton and Officer Christopher Flores. Flores was one of two officers who shot at Hampton.

On Friday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Eric Fleming dismissed the charges against Hampton after the defense argued that the District Attorney’s Office failed to present evidence of Hampton’s identity as the person who attacked the officers while presenting the case to the grand jury.

Basic criminal procedures in California requires that the defendant be identified as the person who committed the alleged crime.

Prosecutors responded to the motion to dismiss by stating that the defense never disputed Hampton’s involvement, and that prosecutors had submitted video evidence against Hampton.  

Rachel Marshall, spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office said:

“We presented evidence of identification, including video evidence, but the judge ruled it was insufficient.”

The grand jury issued the indictments in connection with an incident that occurred on December 7, 2019. Officer Flores was a rookie officer on field training when he and Officer Sterling Hayes encountered Hampton.

Hampton, a suspect in a burglary in the Mission District, appeared to be intoxicated near the intersection of 23rd and Capp Streets. Police say Hampton assaulted Officer Hayes through the passenger-side door of a police vehicle the two officers were in.

 

A scuffle broke out between the officers and Hampton.  In the incident caught on Officer Hayes’ body camera, Hampton struck Flores with a 200 ml glass vodka bottle.

Officer Hayes drew his firearm and fired six rounds at Hampton, knocking him to the ground.  When Hampton began to rise to a kneeling position, Officer Flores shot him a second time.

Hampton survived the shooting with critical injuries. He had to have a leg amputated because of the injuries sustained in the shooting.

Attorney Nicole Pifari, representing Officer Flores, said the officer shot Hampton in self-defense. She said she was surprised by the dismissal of Hampton’s charges, and blamed District Attorney Chesa Boudin:

“I was surprised at this failure of Boudin’s office during the grand jury proceedings, but at the end of the day, it has no bearing on the strength of Chris’ case.

“Anyone who has seen that video knows it was Hampton who needlessly attacked this young officer, and it was Hampton who instigated all of the violence that happened that day.”

Pifari had previously issued the attack on the officers by Hampton as brutal, and that Officer Flores was defending himself and his partner from death or serious bodily injury for a “brutal, unprovoked, and incredibly violent attack.”

Danielle Harris, the attorney assigned to represent Hampton, declined to comment.

Officer Flores still faces charges of assault and negligent discharge of a firearm.

The District Attorney’s Officer said they plan to refile charges against Hampton.

The case has drawn criticism from law enforcement groups as tensions rise around the country over police shootings. Boudin was elected just days before the shooting. He had campaigned on platforms of police reforms and ending mass incarceration.

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San Francisco police chief ‘surprised and troubled’ by officer’s felony indictment in shooting incident

December 13, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA San Francisco Police Department officer Christopher Flores has been indicted for a use of force situation that occurred last December.  The police chief has called the indictment “troubling.”

In the incident, Flores fired his weapon at Jamaica Hampton while on-duty and responding to a burglary report in the city’s Mission District. Hampton, allegedly armed with a glass bottle, was critically injured but survived the shooting.

San Francisco police officer indicted over what appears to be a normal use of force scenario
Screenshot courtesy of ABC7 San Francisco

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott gave a professional, but concerned overview of the case against Officer Flores in a Facebook post:

“Statement of San Francisco Chief of Police William Scott on the grand jury indictment of S.F. Police Officer Christopher Flores.

“Today, I was informed of a felony indictment by a grand jury against Officer Christopher Flores regarding his involvement in an officer-involved shooting that occurred on December 7, 2019. Given the facts as we know them, I am surprised and quite frankly disappointed by this felony indictment against one of our officers.”

The chief went on to describe the incident. He said officers responded to an incident where an offender reportedly broke into a home with the occupants inside. The 911 call came from a young mother with her infant child inside the home. The chief continued:

“A short time later, our officers encountered an individual matching the suspect’s description. Audio and video evidence shows that the suspect initiated a violent, unprovoked attack on the officers — repeatedly striking Officer Flores in the head with a thick glass bottle, which resulted in serious injuries.

“Video evidence also shows that the subject — Mr. Jamaica Hampton — pursued Officer Flores as Flores was retreating. Both officers subsequently discharged their firearms, causing life-threatening injuries to Mr. Hampton.”

Chief Scott said he believes the officers followed department policy during the incident and the resulting shooting:

“The San Francisco Police Department’s Use of Force policy states that ‘an immediate threat is considered to exist if a suspect has demonstrated actions that would lead one to reasonably believe that the suspect will continue to pose a threat if not apprehended without delay.

“A person is an immediate threat if the officer reasonably believes the person has the present intent, means, opportunity, and ability to complete the threat regardless of whether the threatened action has been initiated.”

The chief pointed out that the San Francisco Police Department’s Use of Force policy and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Graham v. Conner requires that “the reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than 20/20 hindsight, without regard to the officer’s underlying intent or motivation.”

Chief Scott said that Officer Flores and Jamaica Hampton, who was also indicted, must be presumed innocent until proven guilty as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Chief Scott concluded his Facebook post:

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

“The administrative investigations on this case by the San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Police Accountability are pending adjudication.

“The San Francisco Police Department has been as transparent as the law allows regarding the facts of this investigation. Audio and video evidence from the incident was presented in a public town hall on December 17, 2019, and I would encourage members of the public who are interested in this matter to review the evidence online at https://www.sanfranciscopolice.org/…/notes-used.”

 

Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386 (1989) has been the standard for the application of use of force for more than 30 years.  This case could have a profound impact on the original case law, and begin anew with much more restrictive measures against officers. 

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