Courtesy SFPD

DA: No charges for officers in 2017, 2018 shootings

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office on Monday said it will not be pursuing criminal charges against officers involved in two separate police shootings, one in 2017 and one in 2018.

In the first case, San Francisco police Officer Joshua Cabillo will not face charges stemming from a June 9, 2018 shooting in the city’s North Beach neighborhood, which struck Oliver Barcenas in the lower back.

Cabillo and another officer had initially approached Barcenas and a group of his friends after witnessing some with open containers of alcohol as the group was celebrating the Golden State Warriors NBA championship victory, according to the DA’s office. Although Barcenas was not drinking, Cabillo reportedly noticed that Barcenas had a bulging waistband area.

Barcenas, without warning, fled on foot and Cabillo chased after him. As they ran, Cabillo said he saw Barcenas reach into his waistband area and pull out an extended magazine, although Barcenas never pointed it at anyone, prosecutors said.

Fearing for his own safety and that of the others in the area also celebrating the Warriors’ win, Cabillo then shot at Barcenas twice, striking him in the lower back, according to the district attorney’s office.

Body-worn camera and surveillance video later revealed that Barcenas had thrown his weapon on the ground just “milliseconds” before being shot by Cabillo, who said he didn’t see Barcenas dispose of the weapon.

In declining to file any charges against Cabillo, the District Attorney’s Office noted, “Barcenas’ flight from law enforcement, his drawing a firearm with an extended magazine, the presence of many pedestrians celebrating on the evening of the Warriors’ championship, and the small time difference between Barcenas’ discarding of the firearm and Cabillo’s discharge of a weapon.”

Back in May, Barcenas’ attorney Jeffrey Bornstein filed a lawsuit against the city and the Police Department. The suit alleged Cabillo failed to warn Barcenas he was going to shoot him beforehand and is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for physical and emotional pain Barcenas and his wife suffered. The suit is also seeking an injunction to reform the Police Department’s hiring and use of force policies to prevent what the suit said is a disregard for public safety.

Bornstein was not immediately available for comment on the ruling by the district attorney’s office.

Back in 2012, in an unrelated case, Cabillo, then working as a South San Francisco police officer, shot and killed 15-year-old Derrick Gaines after the boy allegedly pulled a gun from his waistband at a gas station on Westborough Boulevard.

Also on Monday, the district attorney’s office announced it would not file criminal charges against two officers who fatally shot at a man nearly two years ago, after the man barricaded himself in a home and held a woman and her two children hostage.

In the Sept. 24, 2017 case, officers responded to a call from a woman who said her family member and her three children needed help. She said Damien Murray was holding them hostage at a Nob Hill apartment, adding that he might be armed and had a history of drug use.

When officers arrived, Murray, 34, refused to surrender and fired a gun through a window. He also claimed he’d shot the woman in the head.

Negotiations between Murray and officers lasted more than two hours. When officers were finally able to enter the home and climb over furniture Murray had used to block the home’s stairway, Murray allegedly reached for his gun.

Officers Wilrolan Ravelo and Officer Jason Robinson then fired at Murray, striking him five or six times.

Officers then learned that the woman being held hostage had, in fact, not been shot. Murray was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

“Given Mr. Murray’s earlier threats, discharge of his gun, and the danger that he presented by reaching for his gun when officers confronted him during the hostage rescue, the District Attorney declines to file charges for either officer in this matter,” prosecutors said.

By Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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