San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Mayor London Breed has written a letter to outgoing Governor Jerry Brown in an effort to have her brother, a convicted killer, released from prison.
Napoleon Brown already had one robbery conviction on his record when he and an accomplice, Sala Thorn, robbed a Johnny Rockets restaurant at gunpoint on June 19, 2000, according to the San Francisco Gate.
The duo made off with over $7,000, and jumped into a getaway vehicle being driven by 25-year-old Lenties White.
San Francisco Police Officer Gary Watts began following the suspects’ car, at which point the driver pulled into the median on the Golden Gate Bridge.
The driver’s door flew open, and White was shoved out of the car and onto the roadway, where she laid facedown and sobbed, according to court documents.
A passenger then exited the vehicle and walked around to the driver’s side, ignoring Officer Watts’ commands to get onto the ground.
The suspect vehicle sped away, and White failed to comply with the officer’s directions to stand up.
Dodge Stratus driven by a suspected drunk driver then slammed into her.
Before she died of blood loss and blunt force trauma, White told officers at the hospital that Brown was the one who shoved her out of the vehicle.
Brown, now 46, was originally sentenced to 44 years in prison for robbery and murder, KNTV reported.
His murder conviction was later overturned due to a technicality, and he was subsequently convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 42 years in prison.
In 2017, Brown was caught with heroin inside the prison, resulting in an additional two-year sentence.
He is not eligible for parole consideration until 2032.
Breed sent the letter on her personal stationary, but mentioned her position as San Francisco’s mayor both in the heading and the body of the document, the San Francisco Gate reported.
“The timing of it is troublesome,” veteran prosecutor turned defense attorney Chuck Smith told KNTV. “She could have written this letter six months ago, when she wasn’t mayor – and she didn’t. The governor obviously is leaving office soon.”
Breed told the governor that her brother was a victim of hopelessness since his youth, which she said caused him to turn to drugs and a life of crime, the San Francisco Gate reported.
“Prison is not the place for him to stay clean, for him to make meaningful amends for his crimes, for him to pursue restorative justice,” she wrote.
“Although I don’t believe the 44-year sentence was fair, I make no excuses for him,” Breed said in her letter to the governor. “His decisions, his actions, led him to the place he finds himself now.”
“Still, I ask that you consider mercy, and rehabilitation,” Breed added, according to KNTV. “I guarantee we can secure him access to a job, to a good home, to the counselling and services he and every other addict need for the rest of their lives.”
Breed noted that Brown has completed parenting, addiction treatment, and other programs as an inmate, and declared that his release would be “best for both Napoleon and society overall.”
Breed, who tried to provide her brother with an alibi by testifying during his murder trial that he was asleep on the family’s couch while he was actually out holding up the restaurant, made no mention of Brown’s recent heroin possession conviction.
White’s mother, Sandra McNeil, told KNTV that she believes Breed attempted to use her position to get her brother out of jail.
“I don’t think it would be justice,” McNeil said. “She’s the mayor, so she’s got a little power, so she thinks she can get her brother out.’’
“I thought it was done and over,” she added. “Justice was served and that was the end of it – I never knew there was going to be another beginning of it.”
On Tuesday, Breed released a statement defending her request to the governor.
“Too many people, particularly young black men like my brother was when he was convicted, are not given an opportunity to become contributing members of society after they have served time in prison,” she said. “I believe my brother deserves that opportunity.”
“I do believe that people need to face consequences when they have broken the law, but I also believe that we should allow for the rehabilitation and re-entry of people into society after they have served an amount of time that reflects the crimes committed,” the statement read.
Breed argued that she was not asking the governor to pardon her brother entirely or to “wipe away” his conviction, but that she had simply asked him to let Brown walk out of jail to serve the rest of his sentence in the community.
She then declared that the San Francisco community was also prepared to give her brother a hand, should he be released.
“My family and our community is ready and willing to help support my brother, and we will take this responsibility seriously if his sentence is commuted,” Breed claimed. I believe he will better serve society, the community, his family, and his children outside of prison.”
She acknowledged that her brother continues to struggle with addiction, and blamed the criminal justice system for not providing him with treatment, KPIX reported.
“It’s sad but it’s unfortunate, my brother has a drug problem,” she said. “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.”
When asked if her brother is still using drugs as an inmate at the California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville, she admitted that she believes he is.
“As far I know, unfortunately, yes,” Breed responded.
Gov. Brown leaves office on Jan. 7, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
A spokesman for his office refused to comment on pending applications for commutation of prison sentences.