SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony wailed with tears when San Francisco homicide detectives told him that Banko Brown was dead and he was going to jail.

Anthony, 33, shot Brown at point-blank range on April 27 while Brown was attempting to dash out of a Walgreens store with a bag of stolen items. The unarmed transgender man collapsed on Market Street’s sidewalk while the guard yelled at bystanders to call 911.

Police handcuffed the guard then hauled him into an interrogation room where Anthony answered detectives’ questions for several hours. It wasn’t until the very end of the 3-hour-long interrogation that detectives informed the guard that he killed someone and he was going to spend the night in jail.

Anthony sobbed and said, “Oh God. This can’t be happening. I swear. I just threw my whole f**king life away, man. I was trying to protect myself. I can’t believe (Brown) died! I can’t believe that! I never wanted to end no f**king life at all! I’m sorry.”

Asia Hubbard, ex-girlfriend of Banko Brown, speaks outside City Hall on May 15, 2023 following District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ decision to not prosecute Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony. (Scott Strazzante / San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Brown’s parents want justice for their loved one. But they won’t find it in the San Francisco Hall of Justice. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said her office will not file any criminal charges against the guard because he has a strong case for self-defense.

“At this time, there is nothing to rebut his statements that he acted in self defense,” Jenkins said. Anthony was freed from jail.

The entire homicide was recorded on Walgreens’ surveillance camera.

(WARNING: Graphic Video. The Walgreens store surveillance video can be viewed below.)

Surveillance video shows the 24-year-old homeless man walking towards the store’s exit door carrying a bag full of items. Anthony blocks Brown’s escape path, restrains him in a choke hold, and pins him on the ground facedown. The guard then lets the shoplifter get up from the ground. When Brown makes a second escape attempt with the stolen items and faces Anthony, the guard opens fire.

The guard told police that he didn’t handcuff Brown because he didn’t have any handcuffs. Anthony wasn’t equipped with any less-lethal devices such as Tasers and batons. Instead, he was armed with two handguns and seven magazines.

Two of the city’s top lawmakers, Supervisor Dean Preston and Supervisor Shamann Walton, described the killing as an “execution.” Walton said, “I have watched the video several times, Banko Brown was clearly walking backwards, after being thrown to the ground, punched, and abused by the security guard for several seconds. Banko walks backwards and is executed. The security guard had the upper hand the entire time.”

Banko Brown
Banko Brown, 24, was fatally shot once in the chest.

Jenkins said the case will not be prosecuted because Anthony believed he was in imminent danger.

The guard told San Francisco Police Department detectives that Brown threatened to stab him while they were wrestling inside the store. The guard admitted that he never saw anything in Brown’s hands, but he still feared that he could have a knife.

During the interrogation with detectives, Anthony claimed that Brown said “I’m going to stab you! I’m going to stab your a**!”

The busy Walgreens store was full of customers at the time. Police interviewed multiple shoppers who witnessed what happened, but none of them said they heard Brown threaten to stab Anthony, according to documents released by the District Attorney’s Office.

After he was shot, Brown’s last words to the guard were, “Sorry man, that shouldn’t have happened. I was stupid,” according one witness.

The time between when the guard first confronted Brown for shoplifting, and ultimately shot him, was 54 seconds. The guard was not injured.

Banko Brown
Anthony wrestles Brown into a choke hold inside a Walgreens store. Brown is wearing a white T-shirt. (Image courtesy SFDAO)

Anthony is employed by Kingdom Group Protective Services, his job title is “Robbery Suppression Officer,” and he was assigned to guard the Walgreens store on Market Street. On April 27, the company’s instructions to guard personnel was to engage in “hands-on” recovery of merchandise. 

Supervisor Walton said, “DA Jenkins’ decision to not charge gives every armed security guard in San Francisco a license to have an open season to shoot and kill Black and transgender people for alleged shoplifting.”

Because of “extraordinary” public interest in this case, the District Attorney’s Office produced a charging declination report detailing evidence analyzed by prosecutors, surveillance video, statements from witnesses, and detectives’ interview with Anthony.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins speaks at a news conference in May of 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

The District Attorney’s Office released:

SFPD homicide detectives’ interrogation

Anthony refers to Brown as a female throughout the SFPD’s interrogation because he was unaware that Brown was a transgender man.

Detectives told Anthony to tell his side of the story from the beginning. The guard replied, “I noticed the individual …stealing…I didn’t immediately approach her… at the time I thought it was a him. I noticed she’s stealing… and blatantly stealing. I told her, I was like, ‘hey, you know …just put the items back there shouldn’t be no issues.”

Anthony continued, “There was aggressive energy. I was trying to get the items back and she was fighting me to keep the items… and all that… I am um… I got in position because I was scared that my shoulder would dislocate. Because I have a previous injury and it hasn’t healed all the way, um… I was sitting here tussling I was thinking she was going to attack me because I went for the items. I tried to stop her because I didn’t have any handcuffs…by holding her arms back. I held the arm back. And she just kept on resisting. Um, I’m just trying to get her to calm down…you know, I mean it’s just a few items it’s not worth fighting over. And my only way of stopping her from harming me or me getting any injuries was to choke like a chokehold type uh move.”

While Anthony had Brown pinned on the ground he said, “‘Hey… I’m going to let you go, but I’m gonna need you to calm down.’ I let go. I stood back because the whole time we were wrestling she’s saying she’s gonna stab me and that’s what really put the fear in my heart. Like….okay, if I let her go she might just try to stab me so… so that’s when I drew my gun out. Once I backed away from her…um… had the gun pointed downwards. She looked like she was getting ready to leave, but then she turned back around and advanced toward me. And I didn’t know what
she was planning on doing, but, uh… turns out her intention was to…try to spit at me and by that reaction by her turning around and advancing towards me…that’s when I lifted it [motions with hands] and then shot once.”

“I didn’t have no intentions of just going straight to shoot because I didn’t feel like I was totally in imminent um…danger until she advanced towards me,” Anthony said.

The guard told police that he later realized Brown turned to face him because Brown wanted to spit on him.

One detective asked, “When she was saying that she was going to stab you, do you remember exactly what she said?”

Anthony said, “‘I’m gonna stab you. I’m gonna stab your ass!’ When she moved towards me, that’s when I fired one shot. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t.”

The detective asked, “In your capacity as a security guard with Kingdom Group doing security have you ever been threatened before? What kind of threats do people normally make to you?”

Anthony answered, “Plenty of times. Somebody’s going to come shoot…come back and shoot up the place… watch out, watch my back…um, and I got spat on before… throwing stuff at me… (unintelligible)…um, yeah, that’s about it. It never really got this physical before. I’ve worked for plenty of other security companies. I been doing it since I was 18. I’m 33 now.”

The detective asked, “You said after you shot her energy changed. What does that mean?”

Anthony replied, “She was like saying ‘Sorry,’ and I’m like… I’m feeling like super bad. I’m really feeling bad…I’m like ‘Oh my God, I hope she’s OK.’ You know I really hope she’s pulling through. I didn’t want to end no life. It’s not my intention. I just wanted to stop the threat.”

San Francisco Democratic Party chair Honey Mahogany, left, attends a demonstration held outside of the District Attorney’s Office on May 17, 2023. (Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Anthony told police that he felt “on edge” this year. His marriage recently ended in divorce and his brother narrowly survived after being shot in February.

“My other brother he recently just got shot this year. Um, he got shot seven times by three guys approached the vehicle. My brother was on his phone chilling with his friend and these guys shot him seven times. They shot the car up 30 times. So, I’ve been on edge… I’ve been on edge… with the divorce…everything! I’m walking on eggshells. It’s a lot of pressure. And I’m like…I wish this could have been avoided,” Anthony said.

The guard’s first question for the police detectives was, “Is there a possibility I will be going home tonight?”

One detective answered, “So, she died.”

Anthony began sobbing and said, “Oh God. This can’t be happening. I swear. I just threw my whole f**king life away, man. I did not know. I swear. I was trying to protect myself. I can’t believe she died! I can’t believe that! I never wanted to end no f**king life at all! I’m sorry. I was hoping she would pull through! All I was trying to do is go to work and f**king come home, man! And protect my f**king self, man! There’s too much crazy sh*t going on.”

A detective said, “All I can say with any degree of certainty is that you have to go to jail tonight.”

Anthony continued crying and said, “This isn’t happening. I’m going to lose my home. I’m gonna lose my job. I pretty much lost everything… my wife. why my whole f**king life has been sh**ty, man! I’m trying to do the best I can I swear to God, man. (sobbing) I went from homeless to f**king finding a nice woman that I wanted to marry. That didn’t work out. (sighs) I’ve been homeless. I’m getting f**ked!”

The guard continued, “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for her. I’m sorry for her parents…everything.”