The city of South San Francisco is taking the county coroner to court over the autopsy photos of a 15-year-old boy killed by a police officer later cleared in the death but sued civilly along with the city and police chief.
The city is petitioning Coroner Robert Foucrault to release the photos taken at his autopsy arguing the condition of Derrick Gaines’ body at the time of death will help illustrate his contact with Officer Joshua Cabillo and cause of death, according to court documents. A hearing is set for Dec. 19.
Foucrault said the court proceeding is necessary because, while he can turn over photographs to a law enforcement agency for a criminal investigation, the city is not acting in that capacity. He does not anticipate opposing the request or seeing any reason why it would be denied.
Todd Master, the city’s attorney in the matter, was not immediately reachable for comment but argues in the petition the city of South San Francisco requires the photographs to defend itself in the $10 million federal civil rights filed by Gaines’ family last October.
Cabillo shot and killed Gaines June 5, 2012 at the Arco gas station on Westborough and Gellert boulevards at about 9 p.m. after he and another teen were stopped by the officer. Cabillo suspected the teen was carrying drugs or possibly a weapon due to his suspicious behavior, according to the District Attorney’s Office in a letter concluding its investigation into Gaines’ death and clearing the officer of wrongdoing,
The officer told Gaines to put his hands in the air and the teen started to comply before fleeing the scene. The officer gave chase and caught up to him quickly before grabbing his clothing and striking him on the back of the head with a gun, according to the letter.
As Gaines fell to the ground, a gun fell from his person onto the ground close to the teen’s knee and as he reached for it Cabillo fired out of fear for his own safety, according to the District Attorney’s Office conclusion.
But the lawsuit claims Cabillo was motivated by prejudice against Gaines, who was readily recognizable as African-American. It also alleges the officer’s conduct was “extreme, unreasonable and outrageous.”
The complaint alleges Cabillo shot Gaines twice, once in the base of his neck and another in his lower back.
An autopsy showed Gaines had cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamine in his blood. Both marijuana and methamphetamine pills were also recovered from his person upon removal of his clothing, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
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