San Francisco, CA — An incident that began over an open alcohol container last year, ended with one man in the hospital with two bullet holes in his back, a riot nearly kicking off, a San Francisco cop under investigation, and a lawsuit in which the taxpayers are sure to be held liable.
Oliver Barcenas, 28, was shot in the back multiple times while running into a crowd, away from officer Joshua Cabillo on June 9. Barcenas has now filed a lawsuit against the city and the police department for “unreasonable seizure, use of excessive force, interference with California Constitutional rights, negligence, and negligent hiring” among other charges, according to Mission Local.
Last June, as revelers filled the area for the last game of the NBA finals, a police officer spotted a group in which a man had an open container of alcohol and targeted them for arrest or extortion. The man holding the beer, who was not Barcenas, offered to pour out the beer and move along. However, Cabillo detained the entire crowd anyway. Not wanting to be arrested or extorted, Barcenas took off running—despite the fact that he was not holding anything.
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 pulled out the weapon—and threw it away—the officer in pursuit opened fire, shooting him in the back, twice, causing him to immediately fall to the ground.
According to the lawsuit, “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, as Mission Local points out, Barcenas alleges that the officer’s use of deadly force was not justified: Despite Barcenas possessing a gun, “he posed no threat to Cabillo or anyone else.”
Indeed, he had thrown the weapon before being shot and was running away.
“He had a firearm,” Cabillo 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.
Cabillo 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.
“Those videos do not look good,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said at the time, 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.
After he was shot, Barcenas was transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated for his injuries. He pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm in December and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
John Coté, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s office, is using Barcenas’ sentence against him to justify Cabillo’s excessive use of deadly force that night, noting: “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.”
Barcenas’ lawsuit also points out that Cabillo should have never been hired as he previously shot and killed a 15-year-old boy in 2012. In that case, the family of the boy was awarded $250,000. Cabillo was also the defendant in another suit in which he and three other officers beat a 23-year-old graphic designer.
Showing the careless nature of the SFPD, despite killing a 15-year-old boy and shooting a fleeing man in the back on video, Cabillo is currently still gainfully employed on regular duty. Citizens of San Francisco beware.