Oakland-based attorney John Burris has filed a $10 million lawsuit on behalf of the family of Derrick Gaines, the 15-year-old who was killed in June by a South City police officer.
According to a complaint, the suit is against the city of South San Francisco, South City Police Chief Mike Massoni and Officer Joshua Cabillo. Plaintiffs are Derrick’s parents Rachel Guido and Derrick Louis Lamar Gaines.
A small crowd gathered at the Arco gas station on Westborough Blvd. Tuesday late afternoon as Burris and members of the Gaines family spoke.
“We have filed this lawsuit largely beause the family has not been able to get any justifiable, reasonable answers from the police department," Burris said. "We have submitted a request with the Department to get their reports and tell us essentially what happened. It's a question of transparancy."
After Burris spoke, Gaines’s mother and father each spoke briefly. The event was one of the first times Gaines’s father has spoken to the media about the incident.
"I've been hurting ever since my son got killed by the police," he said. "That's my only son."
"I haven't had a chance to review Mr. Burris’s [complaint]," South City Mayor Richard Garbarino said over the phone. "The city has taken a look at the DA’s report clearing the officer from any wrong doing. The South San Francisco PD has completed its internal investigation that showed that the officer stuck to all the rules."
"Once [the DA's report] came out, people just dug in their heels," Gaines's great aunt, Dolores Piper, said on Tuesday. "That's what I've been feeling from the community."
Piper said she recently spoke with a long-time friend of Derrick's who said that although she cared about her friend, she did not agree with the ongoing protest on behalf of the slain teen.
"It’s tragic when the use of force is necessary," said Garbarino. "We collectively are saddened by the incident."
The complaint for the wrongful death lawsuit states that when Officer Cabillo and Gaines fell to the ground at the Arco station, a gun in Gaines's waist band fell 10 to 12 feet away, the officer then "jumped on top" of Gaines before a brief tussle, and that Cabillo then fired his pistol twice from a standing position.
The District Attorney investigation that was released in late August found that the use of lethal force the night of the teen's death was justified.
The video attached to this article shows attorney John Burris speaking on Tuesday. Also attached is a letter of explanation that accompanied the DA's August report on the incident.