Family members of Derrick Gaines, the teenager who was fatally shot by South San Francisco Police officer Joshua Cabillo during a physical scuffle in June, held a rally late Thursday afternoon at the Arco gas station where the shooting occurred.
Sept. 20 would have been Gaines's 16th birthday.
At its peak, the group surged to over 75 people, many of whom marched down Gellert Blvd. past the Pack 'N Save parking lot and back to the gas station, holding hand-made signs that read "We love you Derrick" and "Prosecute Officer Cabillo."
Speakers at the event said they wanted "justice for Derrick," and for the SSFPD to change its policies toward youth and toward minorities.
Dolores Piper, Gaines's great aunt, said the group was protesting the findings of the District Attorney's investigation, which was released on Aug. 29. The report found that the officer's use of lethal force was justified because he feared for his life.
"But all Cabillo had to do at that moment was punch him in the face," Piper said. "Derrick was not a confronter, and would use diplomacy if he had to come up against you. His mistake that night was turning and running," she said.
In an interview earlier this week, South City Police Chief Mike Massoni said that Officer Cabillo has been back on the force for about a week, after about three and a half months leave following the shooting. Massoni said that Cabillo received some retraining, but that it is standard for any officer returning from leave.
Massoni said that an internal review by the police department is still underway regarding the incident. That review will not be made public because it is a personnel file, Massoni said.
"We want the officer to be arrested," Willie Cotton of the Socialist Workers Party said at the rally. Cotton echoed other speakers that day when he said that the movement around Derrick Gaines was not just about this shooting, but about addressing an ongoing dynamic of police intimidation.
Local teen Fernando Mendes attended the event with several friends to "pay respect to Derrick," he said. Mendes said he generally feels less safe in South City since the shooting. He said that members of the South City police force were scheduled to appear at his school Friday to answer general questions about law enforcement.
"I'm going to ask them about this," Mendes said, referring to the shooting.
Officer Cabillo is a member of the Neighborhood Response Team within the SSFPD, which was created in Jan 2011 after a rash of gang-related violence. The team aims to build positive relationships with local communities. Massoni said that Cabillo will finish his term on that unit and then rotate back to regular patrol.
Massoni said that he and the department reached out to the Gaines family after the shooting.
"I don't know what they mean by justice," Massoni said, in reference to the demands of Thursday's rally. "No police officer wants to see [a shooting] happen. I don't look at this as racial profiling; [the officer] saw people acting different," before stopping them, Massoni added.
The District Attorney's investigation that spans over 1,000 pages included interviews with several of Gaines's friends, including one the report describes as a previous girlfriend explaining that Gaines often carried a gun on him.
The investigation also quoted another aquaintance saying that Gaines sometimes carried one for protection. The DA report also noted that the .45 caliber revolver that Gaines had on him the night of the shooting was not operable because it was missing a firing pin.
Over a dozen teenagers who knew Gaines were at the rally, several of whom spoke. Also in attendance were representatives of the Oscar Grant Committee, which is a group formed after the Oakland man was shot by BART police in 2009.
Attorney John Burris, who represented the Grant family and is representing the Gaines family, also spoke at the event on Thursday. Burris said that he has filed a complaint, and hopes to file a lawsuit on behalf of the family within the next month.
Gaines's father attended the rally, but had no comment.
The rally organizers also thanked Oliver Chin, the owner of the Arco station, who allowed the event to take place on the station's property.
See the attached PDF for more information on the District Attorney's report.