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Shot Teen Was Friendly, Funny, Friends and Family Say

Close to one hundred friends and relatives gathered in a vigil at the Arco gas station on Westborough Boulevard Wednesday afternoon where 15-year-old Derrick Gaines had been killed in an officer-related shooting the night before.

Derrick Gaines was an outgoing, popular and funny teenager who loved music and rap, according family and friends who gathered Wednesday afternoon in a vigil at the Arco gas station the night before.

"He was outgoing, he was chill, always positive," said friend Noor Gheith, 17, who would play football with Gaines in Westborough Park on Saturdays.

"He could make anybody laugh," said Nysaya Garcia, 19, a recent South San Francisco High School graduate who met Gaines in summer school. "He was like my little brother."

"He was funny and very, very loud," said Savannah Valadez, 15, an student who met Gaines as a student at Parkway Heights Middle School. "He would crack jokes, try to be an attention-getter. He was a people person."

Gaines, 15, lived near with his great aunt and had attended Monte Verde Elementary School, , and Westborough Middle School, according to friends and SSFUSD Superintendent Alejandro Hogan.

He had just finished eighth grade at Foxridge and was heading to in the fall, Hogan said.

after running away from an officer who tried to stop him and a friend on Tuesday, but the people who came out to share memories and leave flowers, candles and stuffed animals a makeshift memorial said that wasn't the Derrick they knew.

"He was not mean, not thuggish," said his great aunt, Dolores Piper, who raised him. "Teachers always thought he was a helluva trip."

"There was no reason to kill him. He was running away from the police," said Gaines' stepfather, Michael Red, standing amid close to 100 teenagers who had come out to remember Gaines. "This could happen to any one of these kids out here."

"All of these kids suffer from the same thing: being a minority in South San Francisco," said Gaines' mother, Rachel Guido Red. Gaines was mixed race but identified as black, his friends said.

"Our first reaction when the cops come up is to run," Garcia said. "We're afraid."

"The truth is, they had no reason to stop him," Red said. "We have these kids that dress like they dress, talk like they talk, do like they do and the police have no idea how to communicate with them."

Red said he would be surprised if Gaines had a gun, but even if he did, he didn't point it at the officer. The question of whether he pointed it at the officer by the South San Francisco Police Department and the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Piper, Gaines' aunt, said she went into the Grand Avenue barber shop on Wednesday where Gaines regularly had his hair cut. The barber gave what she considered to be a perfect description of Gaines.

"He said he had this identity crisis going on, but he was a good kid underneath it," Piper recounted.

"He was a good kid. He was looking for direction," Red said.

Liza Gonzalez, whose daughter went to school with Gaines, said he was a sweet boy who never had problems with teachers.

"I don't believe he's ever had any weapons," Gonzalez said. "From what my daughter's been telling me, he's been hanging around with the wrong kids."

Gaines bounced around several middle schools before ending up at Foxridge Community Day School, the district's program for expelled students. He was known to police, according to SSFPD Capt. Mike Brosnan.

But his friend Garcia said Gaines was turning things around.

"He changed," Garcia said. "He stopped getting into so much trouble."

Gaines was a persistent person who had already worked hard to overcome challenges in his life, his mother said.

"Derrick was born with club feet, so he had to learn to walk in casts," Guido Red said. "Derrick was a wonderful kid. He was a rapper, he was a prankster. Derrick was very liked, very loved and he mattered."

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Angelique June 07, 2012 at 06:30 PM
RIP Derrick
Erin June 07, 2012 at 07:26 PM
God I hate reporting like this. If someone that is anything other than white gets shot the media jumps right on that shit and turns it into an issue of race. And, of course, all of the mourners are going to turn it into that as well. We never see stories where some jackhole white guy runs from the cops and he gets shot. Nope. God forbid cops in the bay area try to do there job, these days, cuz the first thing that is going to be leveled at them is a racism charge. I don't know if you folks have heard lately but the minority is no longer black, latino, etc. It's white. And the folks keeping racism alive are the folks that still insist on claiming that everything is an issue of race. Like you asshole reporters. Report it like it is, not this sensationalized crap that is designed to side with the mourners. I'd love to hear the other side to this story.
catherine smith June 07, 2012 at 08:00 PM
I agree with Erin, I am sorry for the loss of a young soul who was heading down the wrong path. If he did not point the gun at the officer there would be no story. But the police have the right to protect them selves what should he have waited to be shot at before takeing action, I think not. To many of todays youth think they can do what ever they want and pointing a gun at the police just shows there way of thinking. May you rest in peace young man and my prayers go out to his family. Parents please start to take notice in your kids life and then you may not have this happen to you also.
Tess June 07, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I agree that this story is lopsided and it makes for disturbing reading. But I don't hold it against the reporter as she was just quoting the relatives and friends. Saddly, after all the facts are out - and I am sure the facts will clear the officer from wrong doing - these same people will claim police cover up and racism and Derrick's death will be in vain. Let's learn from this - let's make sure there are no guns in the house. Let's make sure we know who are kids are and who their friends are. Let's not turn a blind eye when we don't like what we see and call our kids on it.
Cheryl Warren June 07, 2012 at 11:45 PM
This story is discusting and totally one sided! Shame on you SSF Patch! I a white and live in SSF and I feel that I am the minority, wasnt the kid Mexican? Looked like it to me from the pictures and NO our instinct is to NOT run when the police confront us, it's to be the opposite, If you run you have something to hide
Drew Himmelstein (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Thank you for your feedback. I'd encourage you to leave your thoughts on a story I just posted that addresses the polarized reactions to the shooting in the South San Francisco community. http://southsanfrancisco.patch.com/articles/are-police-being-unfairly-vilified
Rico June 08, 2012 at 06:35 AM
Nobody is looking at the facts. This young boy had a gun. I don't care how funny and outgoing he was to all his friends and family. To the public he was a menace. Oh I hate the race card......I don't care if he was green from mars.... He was 15 with a gun. Blame his mom
Tess June 08, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I agree that the guardians are responsible for the upbringing of a child and in Derrick's case he was raised by the aunt and uncle so very surprised that NOW mom and dad are in the picture talking to the media. Maybe the four adults responsible for this teenager can explain why he had a gun.
Mike June 12, 2012 at 11:04 PM
In almost every incident that I have heard of where the police shoot a person who claims minority status that person is a “good person” with a ‘magical personality’ who was, is, or has overcome some social challenge? I personally know or have had contact with people who have been convicted of murder that are “nice guys’ and have “great personalities” and even had to overcome various obstacles. However, they murdered someone. Heck people even testified that Scott Peterson was a wonderful guy. In the case here the only thing that I am interested in is does evidence exist that he had a firearm in his possession, and did the officer have probable cause to believe that the officers’ life or the life of anyone else was in danger. For me if the individual the police are attempting to contact has a firearm, and if the officer believes the individual presents a danger to him or any person in the area then deadly force is justified and being 14, 15, or whatever years of age and ethnic composure is the least important thing to be considered. Yes people like to know everything, but they unfortunately often ignore the facts and embrace things they should not. And yes Reporters need to report the news, but to what extent does that need to be done? For me the key points here are Police, kid with a gun, shooting, and ongoing investigation.
drew September 19, 2012 at 06:01 AM
You guys didnt even know him he was a cool kid and the gun didnt work. He was scared. I know whathappened derrick fell and the joshua shot him dead. Joshua was tge police ifficer. Rest easy gaines. LOVE
Mike October 22, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Drew, in your eyes he may have been a "cool kid" . However, regardless of the "vision" you have attained by virtue of your association with young Grimes you should not ignore the facts as supported by eye witness statements. Derrick had a hand gun in his posession. Who other than Grimes could have known that it was not fully functional? The officer had reason to believe the weapon was functional and that it would be used against him. If you really want to see justice then ask yourself the following question. Who gave Derrick Grimes the gun? Find that answer and you have the person responsible for Derrick's death. No, I did not know Derrick but haveing known many kids like him I think he was probably a nice kid that made some bad choices due to a lack of guidence by family members, good parenting role models, and a desire to be liked or "respected" by his peers.

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