Family of man fatally shot by Walgreens security guard files $25M wrongful death lawsuit


(SAN FRANCISCO) — The family of a man fatally shot by a security guard in a San Francisco Walgreens last month during an apparent shoplifting altercation has filed a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit.

Banko Brown, 24, died on April 27 following an altercation with the guard, police said. The guard, 33-year-old Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, has not been charged in the shooting.

Attorneys for Banko’s parents announced Friday they have filed a civil lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court against Walgreens, Anthony and Kingdom Group Protective Services, which provides security for Walgreens and employs Anthony.

“Deadly force was not the way to handle this,” civil rights attorney John Burris told reporters during a Friday press briefing, calling it a “petty theft situation.”

“You’re talking about taking a person’s life in connection with $15, $14,” Burris said.

The lawsuit claims that Walgreens and Kingdom Group Protective Services have encouraged their armed security officers to use force to detain suspected shoplifters.

“Walgreens is responsible,” Burris said. “It’s Banko’s blood that’s on their heart and on their conscious and on their hands.”

A Walgreens spokesperson told ABC News they are not commenting on the lawsuit. ABC News has reached out to Kingdom Group Protective Services.

A Walgreens spokesperson previously 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.”

A spokesperson for Kingdom Group Protective Services told ABC News previously that it is “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.”

ABC News was unable to reach Anthony for comment.

The incident took place at a Walgreens in downtown San Francisco on April 27 just after 6:30 p.m. PT, according to the police report. The surveillance video, which does not have sound, purportedly shows Brown attempting to leave the store without paying for a bag full of items. The on-duty and lawfully armed security guard, Anthony, stops Brown then the two engage in a struggle. The two struggle for less than a minute until Anthony pins Brown to the ground, as shoppers continue to enter and exit the store.

The video then purportedly shows Anthony letting go of Brown, who picks up the bag and heads for the exit. Brown turns around and walks backward out the door then appears to step toward Anthony. Anthony lifts his gun and fires a single shot, striking Brown in the chest. Brown falls to the ground just outside the store.

In an interview with police, Anthony said he told Brown to “put the items back” but that Brown “refused” and was “aggressive.” Anthony said he went to take the items but that Brown fought to keep them and repeatedly threatened to stab him as a struggle ensued. Police said a knife was not found on Brown.

Attorneys for Brown’s family also pushed back against claims that Brown threatened to stab the guard, saying Friday that witnesses have not corroborated that.

Brown, who struggled with homelessness, worked as a community organizer for the Young Women’s Freedom Center, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that provides support for young women and transgender youth across California.

In seeking at least $25 million in damages, Burris said they want the lawsuit to send a message that “the value of a human life cannot be diminished because of their station in life, who they are.”

“This was a young person, 24 years old, whose life was taken unnecessarily so,” Burris said.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges against the security guard, citing insufficient evidence that Anthony was not acting in lawful self-defense.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta this week agreed to review the district attorney’s office’s decision this week to see whether it was an “abuse of discretion,” ABC San Francisco station KGO reported.

Brown’s parents are calling for murder charges against the guard.

“I would like him to go to prison for life,” Brown’s mother, Kevinisha Henderson, told “Good Morning America.”

Brown’s funeral service was held Thursday, a month after he was killed.

“[I’m] in a state of shock, it’s still hard to believe,” Henderson said. “It’s very hard for me.”

ABC News’ Morgan Winsor and Tenzin Shakya contributed to this report.

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