SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed confirmed Wednesday she has asked outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown to reduce the prison sentence for her brother, who is currently in prison for a manslaughter conviction.
According to court documents, Breed’s brother Napoleon Brown was initially convicted in 2005 of murder, robbery and carjacking and sentenced to 44 years in prison. But in 2011 his murder charge was amended to involuntary manslaughter and his sentenced was reduced to 42 years.
The charges stem from a robbery in June 2000 of a San Francisco restaurant, in which 25-year-old Lenties White was pushed out of the getaway vehicle on the Golden Gate Bridge.
White was subsequently struck by a vehicle and killed. But before she died, according to the court documents, she named Brown as her killer.
Brown, now 46, is serving his sentence at California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville and won’t be eligible for parole until 2032, according to prison records.
Speaking Wednesday at the reopening of a public housing complex in the city’s North Panhandle area, Breed said, “My thoughts go out to the family of Lenties White. I know members of the family; I’m very close with them. I know that the situation has sadly opened up a lot of old wounds and it’s a tragic situation.
“Part of why I wrote the letter had everything to do with what I’ve always stood for,” Breed said.
“With the all the work that I’ve done over the years to help and serve others, especially in the Western Addition community, when I was asked to write another letter, I was of course concerned that as mayor this could backfire… I wasn’t necessarily trying to hide anything but I was concerned. I talked it over with my family, my community, my advisors and others,” she said.
“Basically, I came to the conclusion that whether I was mayor or not, ‘is this something that I should do?’ and the answer is yes.”
According to Breed, this is not the first time she has written a letter on her brother’s behalf. In the past she’s written to the judge during his appeal process.
“I wasn’t an elected official at the time and so it wasn’t even a question to write those letters,” she said.
Breed also stressed that writing a letter to Gov. Brown was just one step in what would be a long and public process involving the state’s Board of Parole Hearings and the California Supreme Court.
Since her time as supervisor, Breed has been open about challenges she’s faced growing up: being raised by her grandmother in public housing in the city’s Western Addition and losing friends to gun violence as well as her sister to a drug overdose.
“Here I am coming from this community of people that I love, where we’ve suffered so much loss through death, through destruction, through the criminal justice system, here I am as mayor and regardless of whether or not he’s my brother, I have an obligation to also shine a light on these things. I’ve never shied away from the challenges that have existed with my family,” she said.
According to court records in the White case, in 2000, Breed provided an alibi for her brother, saying that he had been sleeping at her grandmother’s house the time of the robbery and death.
Regarding reports that Brown was found to be in possession of heroin in prison last year, Breed said, “It’s sad but it’s unfortunate, my brother has a drug problem. He’s been in jail almost 20 years and he still has a drug problem so again we have what is a serious problem with our criminal justice system and people who suffer from substance abuse disorder and mental illness not getting into treatment.
“I’m not here to make excuses for some of the things my brother has done in his past and I think that it’s important that anyone who commits crimes pays the appropriate price,” she said.
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