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The family of a young Black transgender man who was killed by a security guard in a San Francisco Walgreens has filed a civil lawsuit, attorneys for his parents said on Friday, according to ABC News. The suit is against Walgreens, the security guard, and company that provides security to the store and employs the guard.
Brown, 24, was shot to death just outside a Walgreens April 27. He was unarmed. Police arrested the guard, Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, 33, on suspicion of homicide but released him soon afterward, with San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins saying, “The evidence clearly shows that the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense.”
Jenkins has been criticized by San Francisco officials, activists, and Brown’s family for not bringing charges, and some have questioned the need for stores to have armed guards.
Brown, who had experienced homelessness, was a community organizer with the Young Women’s Freedom Center. The organization works with women and trans youth in California.
The video of the shooting was released earlier this month.
The shooting led to protests after Anthony wasn’t charged, bringing to the forefront debates on criminal justice in the city as well as the issue of homelessness.
"Deadly force was not the way to handle this," civil rights attorney John Burris said at a press briefing. He called the incident leading up to the shooting a "petty theft situation."
"You're talking about taking a person's life in connection with $15, $14," Burris added.
The attorney said Walgreens was to blame.
"It's Banko's blood that's on their heart and on their conscious and on their hands," he said.
“This is a young person … whose life was taken unnecessarily … as a consequence of what Walgreens did by putting in place policies that caused this security officer to think for whatever reason that he could shoot and kill a person over petty theft,” Burris said, according to CNN.
Previously, a spokesperson for Walgreens told ABC News, "We are offering condolences to the victim's family during this difficult time. The safety of our patients, customers and team members is our top priority, and violence of any kind will not be tolerated in our stores."
The company would not comment on the recent lawsuit.
“We are fully cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation of this extremely unfortunate incident and are deeply saddened by the loss of Banko Brown’s life. At this time, we are not permitted to comment further,” Kingdom Group Protective Services, the company that employs Anthony, told CNN in a statement.
Burris said the family hoped the $25 million in damages sought would send a message that “the value of a human life cannot be diminished because of their station in life, who they are.”
He added, “This was a young person, 24 years old, whose life was taken unnecessarily so.”
Brown’s parents have called for murder charges to be brought against Anthony. The state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta has said his office would review Jenkins’s decision not to pursue charges against the guard.
Jenkins told CNN she welcomed the review.
“I heard the public’s concerns and we released a comprehensive analysis and report that included investigative records, witness statements and video evidence, so the public could see all of the facts and details and understand how we arrived at our decision. We provided the highest degree of transparency possible that we could with this case,” Jenkins said.