Statement on Repeated Use of Force by SFPD Officer Joshua Cabillo
In 2015, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California filed a federal civil rights suit against the city and county of San Francisco, the SFPD, and three officers including Joshua Cabillo for the assault of 23-year-old Travis Hall.
Travis was approached by three plain clothes officers near his home South of Market as he was getting dropped off by friends. Cabillo and the others didn’t tell him why he was being questioned, but dragged him out of the back seat and beat him when he tried to call for help. He suffered a concussion and cuts and bruises.
What happened to Travis was an outrage. No one should be treated this way. He was minding his own business when these cops chose to approach and harass and violently attack him.
We were able to receive some compensation for the emotional and physical abuse Travis suffered, but it’s not clear if Officer Cabillo was ever disciplined.
What is clear is that Officer Cabillo has a history. We know that he fatally shot 15-year-old Derrick Gaines in 2012. And it was recently revealed that he was the officer who shot Oliver Barcenas in the back on June 9 in North Beach.
But we don’t know much more because California police departments are forbidden from sharing information on whether an officer is guilty of misconduct, if they have been disciplined, or what the discipline is. They can’t even share the factual findings in investigations of police shootings.
We have seen and heard far too many stories of people – particularly people of color – being killed and mistreated by police to allow departments to keep judging these abuses in secret. This secrecy only increases distrust in law enforcement.
Fortunately, California has an opportunity to address this problem by passing SB 1421, a vital piece of legislation to restore Californians’ right to know how police departments investigate officers who are accused of misconduct or use force on members of the community.
The public gives police the authority to detain, arrest, and use force. We have a right to know how police use and abuse those powers. Californians also have a right to know if their local police department does a good job of holding officers accountable when they violate the law or department rules, or if they just sweep misconduct under the rug.