The Lincoln Police Department officer who fatally shot a man in a McDonald’s restaurant parking lot in October was justified in using deadly force, according to a review of the shooting by the Placer County District Attorney’s Office.
Brandon Millard was shot and killed Oct. 25 in the McDonald’s parking lot at Third Street and Lincoln Boulevard after he failed to follow several commands to drop a folding knife in his hand, according to a letter from the prosecutor’s office summarizing the findings of its review.
The letter was acquired by The Sacramento Bee through a public records act request.
The District Attorney’s Office reported that witnesses said Millard had arrived at the McDonald’s with a rifle, which he brandished and later fired.
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The officer who fired his weapon was identified as Peter French, an 11-year veteran with the Lincoln Police Department.
The Placer County district attorney’s letter, dated Nov. 29, described an aggressive Millard, who walked toward French with a knife in hand and ignored commands to drop his weapon. It was signed by Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Wilson.
“After a thorough review, the weight of the evidence clearly shows that the use of deadly force in this incident was justified,” the letter says.
The shooting unfolded when French found Millard in the McDonald’s parking lot. French knew Millard, 37, from prior encounters. When he asked Millard to take his hands out of his pockets, Millard revealed a folding knife in his hand, the DA’s Office said.
Millard opened the knife. French responded by bringing his weapon into a firing position.
“Millard then began walking toward Officer French, slowly increasing his pace,” according to the letter. “Officer French began to step backwards as Millard was closing in on him until he was within several steps of Officer French.”
Lincoln Police Department Sgt. Kevin Klemp arrived on scene before the gunfire. The review said French was worried Klemp might approach Millard without being aware of his “aggressive posture.”
Millard continued to move forward, according to the review. Fearing for his and his partner’s life, French opened fire.
The shooting happened roughly two hours after Millard posted on Facebook an agitated video of himself walking through a wooded area while holding what he called a pellet gun.
His sister, Erica Millard, described the Placer County native as a vagabond who had attended Lincoln High School and slept on people’s couches when he wasn’t working odd jobs. She said he was depressed in the months before the shooting.
In the video, timestamped at 10:56 a.m., Millard said someone had tried to kill him, and that he had called police but they never came.
About 20 minutes later, the Lincoln Police Department received a call from East Sixth Street about a man who had grabbed and possibly discharged a gun that he got from the back of his truck, according to a police log obtained through a public records act request.
At 11:39 a.m., a woman living on Fifth Street called police, telling them she had heard four gunshots from her backyard.
The truck in the first call was described as a gray, lowered truck adorned with flames on its side, the log showed. A vehicle with the same description was parked behind police tape following the shooting and was identified by Erica Millard as her brother’s.
Lincoln Police Department spokeswoman Jill Thompson said Oct. 25 that police were able to locate Millard based on a description given by the caller in the initial East Sixth Street call.
Erica Millard said Wednesday afternoon that she has heard little from law enforcement officials regarding her brother’s death. The family has yet to receive any of his belongings, she said.
“I’m a bit appalled that the newspaper has information before the family,” she said. “We’re being completely stonewalled.”
Thompson said Wednesday that an internal Police Department investigation of the shooting is ongoing. French had returned to duty, she said.
A call to Lincoln’s interim Police Chief Tim Harrigan was not returned Wednesday afternoon.