On June 9, 2018, SFPD Officer Joshua Cabillo shot Oliver Barcenas in the back within one minute of making contact. Body camera footage provided by SFPD.

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. 

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. People, when you run from the police because you’re illegally carrying a concealed weapon with a banned high-capacity magazine, do not, under any circumstances, then pull that gun out from your waistband so the pursuing officer can see it from the side that he’s chasing you on, and then throw the gun under a car on the other side of your body so that the officer cannot see that you have ditched said weapon. Better to leave that gun concealed, or throw it away when you turn a corner. Maybe someone can offer a class on remedial fleeing. Because it is clear that there are some people out there who cannot learn from experience and need extra help.

  2. $25k? Wow. Cote should just prepare the agreement and cut a check. No reason to try and justify a bad shoot when you can get out for chump change.

    1. The fleeing felon is actually suing for as much as can be proven at trial. The $25k is just a placeholder to get this to “unlimited jurisdiction”.