San Francisco, CA — An incident that began over an open alcohol container ended with one man in the hospital with two bullet holes in his back, a riot nearly kicking off, and a San Francisco cop under investigation.
Over the weekend, as revelers filled the area for the last game of the NBA finals, a police officer spotted a group with open containers of alcohol and targeted them for arrest or extortion. Not wanting to be arrested or extorted for drinking a can of beer in public, a man in the group, identified as 28-year-old Oliver Barcenas took off running.
A brief foot chase ensued and during the chase, Barcenas was alleged to have taken out a .45 caliber pistol with an extended magazine. Even though video shows Barcenas was still running away when he allegedly pulled out the weapon, the officer in pursuit opened fire, shooting him in the back—twice—causing him to immediately fall to the ground.
“He had a firearm,” an officer can be heard saying. “He had like a Tec-9… Dude back people up. There’s a gun around here.” Police say they found a .45 caliber pistol near the scene.
When bystanders saw what happened, all hell broke loose. Immediately after the shooting, an angry crowd began to gather around Barcenas who lay bleeding on the ground. They were recording with their cellphones whilst threatening and yelling at the officer.
The officer repeatedly told the bystanders to back up but none of them listened. In fact, one bystander took a break from filming to reach down and see if Barcenas had a pulse.
“What did you do! F— you!” the enraged group shouts at the officer.
Luckily, for the officer, just as it appears that he’s going to be overtaken by the crowd, his fellow cops show up to push them back—but not without resistance.
As the cops arrive, multiple people refuse to leave and even push back at officers. However, once the police officers outnumbered the citizens, they were cleared.
In the body camera video released by police this week, we do not see Barcenas point the weapon in the direction of the officer. According to SF Gate, the San Francisco Police Department’s General Order on use of force states that officers may use deadly force only “as a last resort when reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or are not feasible to protect the safety of the public and police officers.”
Judging from what we see in the video, that did not appear to be the case.
“Those videos do not look good,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said after police played the videos at town hall meeting. “I did not see the part where he takes the jacket off. I did not see the part where anyone is swinging around with a gun.”
Natalie April, 24, said she works with Barcenas at Farmgirl Flowers in Potrero Hill. “As far as co-workers go, everyone is completely in shock,” she said. “I think you can tell from the video he was scared, and I don’t feel safe being around the streets with officers shooting people. I think it’s beyond disappointing. I’m floored.”
“I’m very concerned about the shooting,” said 62-year-old North Beach resident Theresa Flandrich. “I would have hoped there would have been some awareness that there are other people here. It’s just shocking to me to see this.”
Ironically enough, this is the second time Barcenas has been shot by police. In 2012, the current assistant Chief Toney Chaplin opened fire on Barcenas after he was accused of pulling a Tec-9 pistol. In that case, he was shot three times and survived.
The San Francisco Police Department’s homicide unit and Internal Affairs Bureau are currently investigating the shooting, along with the district attorney’s office and city Department of Police Accountability.
Barcenas was transported to a nearby hospital where he is expected to survive. He has been charged with numerous charges in relation to the incident including felon in possession of a firearm.