SFDA Releases Summary of Investigation, Legal Analysis and Charging Decisions in Two Officer-Involved Shooting Incidents
News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2019
SFDA CONTACT: Alex Bastian (415) 553-1931 | Max Szabo (415) 553-9089
SFDA RELEASES SUMMARY OF INVESTIGATION, LEGAL ANALYSIS AND CHARGING DECISIONS IN TWO OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING INCIDENTS
Today, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office (SFDA) Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB) released the summary of investigation, legal analysis and charging decisions related to two officer-involved shooting (OIS) investigations. The attached documents reflect SFDA’s commitment to the community that investigations and charging decisions are conducted with transparency. SFDA’s reviews of use of force incidents are conducted by the office’s Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB). They focus exclusively on determining whether criminal charges relating to the officers’ conduct are warranted. IIB’s reviews do not examine issues such as officers’ compliance with their agency’s policies and procedures, their training or tactics, or any issues related to civil liability. These reports should not be interpreted as expressing any opinions on such non-criminal matters.
OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING OF OLIVER BARCENAS ON JUNE 9, 2018
The SFDA’s Independent Investigations Bureau has completed its review of the officer-involved shooting that injured Oliver Jose Barcenas in San Francisco on June 9, 2018. In brief, on that evening at approximately 12:15 a.m., Officer Cabillo, Star No. 1014, and Officer Sylvester, Star No. 837, approached four men on the corner of Vallejo and Green who appeared to have open alcohol containers. Cabillo was the first to approach the men, one of whom was holding what appeared to be a beer bottle, and another holding what appeared to be a champagne bottle. Cabillo noticed that while Barcenas was not holding an open container, he had a “bulge” in his “front waistband area.” Believing that Barcenas had a weapon, Cabillo paid close attention to him while he waited for Sylvester to approach after parking the car. Barcenas then pivoted quickly to his right, running north on Grant Avenue. Officer Cabillo’s body-worn camera captured this initial interaction.
After Barcenas started running, Cabillo followed and chased him approximately one and a half blocks. Cabillo said that as they were running, he saw Barcenas reach his right hand into the front of his waistband. Officer Cabillo then unholstered his weapon and moved to Barcenas’ side to see what he drew from his waistband. Cabillo saw Barcenas had a firearm with an extended magazine in his right hand. He feared for his life and the lives of the people on the street at the sight of the weapon, particularly because Barcenas’ weapon was “superior” to his own. Cabillo did not see Barcenas point the gun at anyone, but he did not want to “gamble” because he believed that Barcenas pulled his gun out with the intent of using it. Cabillo fired his weapon twice, hitting Barcenas in the lower back. While video footage reveals that Barcenas threw his weapon to the ground, he did so only milliseconds before Cabillo fired his weapon. Cabillo said he did not see Barcenas throw his gun at all. Body-worn camera footage and security footage from nearby businesses corroborate Cabillo’s narrative of the chase and the shooting.
Based in part on 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, the IIB determined that it was not possible to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Cabillo did not act in defense of himself and/or others. The District Attorney has therefore declined to file any criminal charges in this matter.
OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING OF DAMIEN MURRAY ON SEPTEMBER 24, 2018
The SFDA’s Independent Investigations Bureau has completed its review of the officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of Damien Murray in San Francisco on September 24, 2018. In brief, on September 23, 2017, Mr. Murray was staying overnight at a home with a woman and her two minor children following an outing with them that evening. At approximately 11 pm., Mr. Murray woke the woman without warning. He punched her in the lip and proceeded to point a gun at her. Mr. Murray had guns in the past, and had previously threatened the woman with knives and threatened to kill her, but he had not previously threatened her with a gun.
She called a family member and asked her to call the police because Mr. Murray had a gun. The family member called the police at 11:35 pm and stated that the woman and her minor children needed help “right now”. The family member also indicated that Mr. Murray might have a weapon and that he had a history of drug usage and mental problems.
When San Francisco Police Department officers arrived at the apartment building to investigate, Mr. Murray was heard saying he will “start shooting.” Mr. Murray refused to surrender and fired a gun through an upstairs window. Hostage negotiation ensued in an attempt to get Mr. Murray to surrender and prevent him from harming the woman and the children. Negotiations lasted more than two hours and Mr. Murray, who had earlier consumed methamphetamine, fired the gun again and claimed that he had shot the woman in the head.
The tactical team began a hostage rescue operation and found that Mr. Murray had barricaded the stairway leading to the second floor with furniture and other items. A tactical team had to climb over items in order to gain entry. The woman was screaming for help, and the officers advanced up the stairs to the bedroom where Mr. Murray was holding the children and the woman, who had not been shot. Mr. Murray was on the bed with the gun and kicked at officers and, depending on varying witness accounts, either reached for his gun or brought the gun up towards the officers. Officer Ravelo, Star No. 2464, and Officer Robinson, Star No. 1850 responded to Mr. Murray’s actions by firing at Mr. Murray, striking him five or six times. Mr. Murray received medical attention and was taken to the hospital where he later died.
Given Mr. Murray’s earlier threats, discharge of his gun, and the danger that he presented by his reaching for his gun when officers confronted him during the hostage rescue, the District Attorney declines to file any criminal charges for either officer in this matter.
Both of the officer-involved shooting reports are available on the SFDA website at:https://sfdistrictattorney.org/decision-letters