DA Investigation Of Gaines Shooting Finds No Criminal Conduct By Officer

The District Attorney says the South City police officer who shot teenager Derrick Gaines in June did not commit criminal conduct.

According to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, the DA has completed its investigation into the death of Derrick Gaines, the South City 15-year-old who was shot by a police officer at the Arco gas station on Gellert Blvd and Westborough on June 5.

Inspectors Ivan Grosshauser and William Massey of the DA's Office conducted the investigation, and DA Stephen Wagstaffe stated Wednesday that the filing of criminal charges are not warranted against officer involved, Joshua Cabillo of the South City Police Department.

A press release stated that Wagstaffe concluded that the use of lethal force was a lawful response to the conduct by Gaines and no criminal conduct by Cabillo occurred. 

Thus, the DA declines to file criminal charges and the case is now deemed closed by the DA's Office.

Update 4:45 p.m.: In a letter dated Aug. 29 to South San Francisco Police Chief Michael Massoni, District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe gave details of the investigation’s findings. A PDF of this letter is attached to this article. According to the report, the events that immediately led up to the shooting were as follows:

Gaines attempted to flee the Arco gas station property after Officer Cabillo had instructed him and his companion, Remy Carrillo, to sit down. The officer chased after Gaines.

Officer Cabillo observed a weapon in Gaines’s waistband and the officer pulled his own weapon while running. The officer struck Gaines on the head with his service weapon in order to stop him, and both individuals fell to the ground. During the tumble, a gun fell from Gaines’s waistband onto the ground. Gaines moved his arm in the direction of his dropped firearm.

According to the report, “Officer Cabillo concluded that he did not have enough time to get to the firearm before the subject would, and believed that once the firearm was seized by Gaines that it would be used on the officer. Fearing for his life, Officer Cabillo fired a shot, which hit the subject in the neck.”

“This is what we expected from this investigation -- that this police officer would be exonerated and protected,” Dolores Piper, the great aunt of Gaines, said on Wednesday afternoon in reference to the DA's conclusions.

Piper spoke on the phone from Butte, Montana, where she was visiting family and dispersing Gaines’s ashes.

Oakland-based attorney John Burris has filed a claim on behalf of the Gaines family.

"This decision today has no impact whatsoever on my decision [to file against the city]," Burris said Wednesday, in reference to the DA's statement. "[The DA's Office is] looking at it from a criminal point of view -- that’s a very high standard for a police officer. My civil rights case is about wrongful death and violation of civil rights."

Burris intends to file suit against the city of South San Francisco this fall.

For more details of the DA investigation, see the PDF attached to this article. 

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Judy August 31, 2012 at 12:48 AM
It's hard for a family/friends believe their loved one committed a criminal act. I agree that parents need to pay attention to their kids; however, there are children that cannot be controlled. Obviously, a teenager in possession of a gun, drugs and under the influence of drugs doesn't strike me as someone that will be going to school and doing homework. Unfortunately some children make wrong decisions regardless of what is taught at home. I've read about kids who grow up in a dysfunctional home, parents on drugs/alcohol and they choose to have a better life by staying in school and working. It's all about who you are and how you choose to live.
Tess August 31, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Right there with you Jim and Rhonin. SSF leaders need to stand behind our Police Officers and support them and the FACTS by fighting for the truth and not give a cent to underserving individuals. I never doubted that the officer involved acted properly, but as Mike said earlier, this tragedy will be with him for the rest of his life. The loss of a young life is always hard to grasp let alone accept and Derrick's loss is no exception - however, NO ONE should PROFIT from his loss, especially those who failed him to begin with.
Mike August 31, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Problem: Unforunately we are a country of laws and not consistently a country of justice (which is more of a perception than not). So, sometimes the best decision from a financial stand-point is to propose a settlement. I much like many others hope that does not become the case this time.Whatever the outcome I'm confident that our City Council will do the right thing for the So. City.
Mike August 31, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Rhonin, John Burris is a heck of a good attorney and he has made alot of money doing what he does. I have spent some time with him and he's not a bad guy. In fact although we do not agree on many things I think he is a pretty decent fellow. He has a passion for what he does and, what he does is represent people who he has reason to believe have had their civil rights violated. Generally speaking (settlements aside) in the end if there has been no civil rights violation or other unfavorable issues Mr. Burris may get paid by his client, but that's about all the money that changes hands.
Jim C September 01, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Mike, I think we've reached a point where lawsuits are filed PRECISELY because there is an expectation that some attorney or bureaucrat is going to make the decision to "manage the risk" and settle. If we fight at least some of these unwarranted lawsuits, maybe they will stop.


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