San Francisco, CA – May 10, 2019 – Attorneys for Oliver and Sofia Barcenas have filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court against SFPD Officer Joshua Cabillo, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and the City and County of San Francisco, for the unnecessary and unwarranted shooting of Mr. Barcenas on June 9, 2018.   The complaint is available here.

According to the complaint, “As Mr. Barcenas and others peaceably celebrated the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship victory on the streets of San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, Officer Cabillo confronted two of Mr. Barcenas’ friends because one of them was holding an open beer bottle.  Barcenas showed Cabillo his hands and started to back away since he was not drinking or holding any open containers and had already decided to go home.  After Cabillo forcefully and belligerently told the group ‘none of you are going anywhere,’ Barcenas turned and ran away.  Cabillo gave chase for several seconds and then shot him in the back.”

Mr. and Mrs. Barcenas bring this action to enforce their rights under California law, and to recover damages for the physical and emotional pain they suffered as a result of Defendants’ unlawful conduct.  They also seek injunctive relief to reform the police department’s hiring and use of force policies to prevent future harm to themselves and others put in harm’s way by the reckless disregard for public safety displayed in this case. 

“SFPD needs to take a serious look at the entire history of this shooting, including the hiring and training of this officer, and its use-of-force policy,” said Jeffrey Bornstein of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, lead counsel for Oliver and Sofia Barcenas.  “The body camera video of this shooting is truly shocking.”

The complaint explains: “Although Mr. Barcenas possessed a gun, he never brandished it, turned toward Officer Cabillo, or threatened anyone.  Instead, he threw it into the street as he ran away from Cabillo.  Cabillo nevertheless shot at him multiple times from close range and hit him in the lower back once, knocking him to the ground.  At no time did Cabillo ever warn Barcenas that he would shoot.  Nor did Cabillo give any warning to bystanders to get down or move until after he had already fired multiple shots at Barcenas.  Cabillo’s reckless decision to open fire while running in the middle of a populated sidewalk created danger and unjustifiably risked the lives of Barcenas and bystanders alike. “

“As far as we know, no disciplinary action has been taken against Officer Cabillo for his use of force,” added Bornstein.  “My clients seek redress for their individual injuries, but also want to ensure that the SFPD will seriously address its hiring, supervision, and training responsibilities and its use of force policy to better protect against these kinds of unnecessary acts of violence.”

The complaint alleges that Officer Cabillo engaged in at least the following incidents that should have raised serious concerns for SFPD:

  • In June 2012, while working for the City of South San Francisco, Cabillo shot and killed a fifteen-year-old boy, after targeting and stopping him and his friend without cause, giving chase when the teenagers attempted to flee, striking the boy on the back of the head with the butt of Cabillo’s service weapon, and then shooting him in the neck when the force of his blow to the head had caused a gun the teen had concealed to fall to the ground.
  • In February 2015, as an officer with SFPD, Cabillo retaliated against three individuals who questioned his authority to detain them without sufficient cause by arranging for the individuals’ car to be towed and arresting one of the individuals for driving with a suspended license, even though he knew that the individual never drove the car. A judge subsequently dismissed all the charges. 
  • In April 2015, as an officer with SFPD, Cabillo detained a young man and his three companions without cause; pulled the young man from a car and threw him to the curb, thereby causing a concussion; punched the young man and threatened to break his arm; and then arrested the young man without cause. All charges against the young man were subsequently dropped.

The case is Barcenas v. Cabillo, San Francisco Superior Court, Case No. CGC-19-575896, filed May 10, 2019.