A fleeing man shot in the back last summer by a San Francisco police officer on North Beach streets thick with revelers celebrating a Warriors championship is suing the San Francisco Police Department for excessive force and a raft of other allegations.
Oliver Barcenas — a 28-year-old man who was wounded while running from Officer Joshua Cabillo on June 9 on the corner of Grant Avenue and Vallejo Street — is taking the city, the police department, and Cabillo to court for “unreasonable seizure, use of excessive force, interference with California Constitutional rights, negligence, and negligent hiring” among other charges.
John Coté, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s office, said his colleagues have not yet reviewed the suit. But, he noted, there are complicating factors: “What we know already is that Mr. Barcenas had a gun and was recently sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his actions that night.”
In the wee hours of June 9, as the city celebrated a Warriors sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cabillo approached a group of four men, including Barcenas. One of the men — not Barcenas — was holding an open bottle of alcohol. Despite the men offering to pour out the one bottle and move along, Cabillo said the men were detained.
Seconds later, as caught on Cabillo’s body camera, Barcenas made a run for it down a crowded street. The footage reveals Barcenas tossing an object out of his hand — which later turned out to be a gun — as he ran. A split second later, Cabillo shot Barcenas in the back two times, hitting him as he sprinted through a crowd.
The lawsuit filed Friday alleges that Cabillo had no authority to detain Barcenas. “Cabillo escalated Barcenas’s detention beyond the permissible scope of an investigatory stop when he ignored clear evidence that Barcenas did not possess an open container of any kind, but yet commanded to Barcenas: ‘You’re not going anywhere.’”
Additionally, Barcenas alleges that the officer’s use of deadly force was not justified: although Barcenas possessed a gun, “he posed no threat to Cabillo or anyone else.” Cabillo’s use of deadly force was considered unjustified by a number of experts Mission Local spoke with following the shooting, including a retired judge.
Among the other allegations is that the SFPD was negligent in hiring Cabillo in the first place. While serving as an officer for the South San Francisco Police Department, Cabillo, in 2012, shot and killed a 15-year-old boy who was purportedly reaching for a gun. The high-profile shooting resulted in the city of South San Francisco paying the boy’s family a $250,000 settlement.
Cabillo was also a defendant in a civil suit that alleged he and three other San Francisco officers unnecessarily beat and threatened a 23-year-old graphic designer in the Mission.
Although Cabillo was put on administrative leave following last year’s shooting, SFPD spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak confirmed that Cabillo is now assigned to the Field Operations Bureau — though Andraychak did not specify his role or whether Cabillo is in contact with the public.
Barcenas has his own troubles. Barcenas did, indeed, plead guilty in December to being a felon in possession of a firearm. And he was, indeed, sentenced to seven years in federal prison for that crime. This was not even the first time he was shot by the SFPD: In 2012 now-Assistant Chief Toney Chaplin shot Barcenas as he fled from the police carrying a loaded Tec-9 semi-automatic pistol.
Barcenas is suing the city for $25,000 or more.