San Francisco offers money to aid victims of police violence

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In this Jan. 30, 2020 photo, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin stands for a portrait outside his office in San Francisco. Boudin is announcing a new policy Tuesday, June 9, 2020, allowing victims and witnesses of police violence to obtain crime victims' compensation. The bottom line is that people should not have to rely on a GoFundMe page to pay for a funeral of their son or daughter when theyve been killed by law enforcement, he said. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

SAN FRANCISCO – Victims and witnesses of police violence will be eligible for funeral expenses, help with medical bills, counseling and other services under a policy San Francisco's liberal top prosecutor announced Tuesday.

The policy change by District Attorney Chesa Boudin comes as the U.S. reels from the deaths of George Floyd and other minorities, mostly African American and Latino people, at the hands of police. In the San Francisco Bay Area, protesters are marching against the recent fatal police shootings of two young men.

Boudin’s office and supporters say the policy may be the first in the country.

Boudin, a former deputy public defender who won office last year as part of a national wave of progressive-minded prosecutors, said it is essential that victims of police violence receive the help that any other crime victim would receive.

“The bottom line is that people should not have to rely on a GoFundMe page to pay for a funeral of their son or daughter when they’ve been killed by law enforcement,” he said.

The policy change aims to backfill state compensation laws that exclude victims who lack law enforcement corroboration for the crimes they were subjected to or who were perceived to have contributed to the violence, his office said. Boudin's office will allow corroboration through medical records and other documents.

“Folks from black, brown and disenfranchised communities are not often acknowledged as victims. They're often seen as complicit in their own victimization, stripped of their identity altogether," said Tinisch Hollins, California director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, who joined Boudin at a press conference.

She said she has heard from the family of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by police in the Bay Area city of Vallejo last week when they responded to reports of a break-in at a drug store. An officer fired five times through the window of his patrol car, hitting a kneeling Monterrosa, who had no firearm, only a hammer.