The jurors silently listened to the voice of Ted Rose describe how he pleaded with a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy for answers to why his son lay dead.
Rose died Sept. 19, one day before he was to testify at a federal civil trial in Sacramento in the fatal shooting of his 24-year-old son, Johnathan, a paranoid schizophrenic. His son was killed in Jan. 17, 2012, at the hands of the deputy the Rose family had called for help.
Jurors on Monday heard excerpts of a videotaped deposition Rose gave before attorneys in the case in 2013. His widow, Karen, also took the stand Monday.
Rose and family sued Sacramento County and sheriff’s Deputy David McEntire, alleging McEntire used excessive and unnecessary force when he first struck Johnathan in the head with a duty-issue flashlight, then fatally shot him three times during a struggle inside the home. The altercation occurred minutes after he walked through the door.
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Trial in the case before U.S. District Court Judge Troy Nunley entered its second week Monday.
In the deposition recording, Rose, who was a pastor, described himself as being in shock after the deadly gunfire. He also called himself “a broken man,” who tried to grasp what had just happened to his son.
“He was doing everything you asked him to do. He was unarmed. He was complying. Why did you shoot my boy?” Rose said to the attorney, recalling what he told McEntire as his mortally wounded son lay bleeding on a mattress, comforted by his mother. “(McEntire) looked at me or looked up spaced out or something and he said, ‘I don’t know.’ ”
McEntire denied saying the words in testimony last week and testified he shot the younger Rose in a last-ditch effort to save his own life during a struggle with the 261-pound man that began after a sleeping Johnathan Rose was roused by McEntire.
Attorneys for the Rose family contend that the 250-pound McEntire had other less-lethal weapons at his disposal including a baton and pepper spray and that he instigated the struggle that ended in gunfire. They also point to conduct on duty that had led to more than five departmental internal affairs investigations and a trio of lawsuits against McEntire for allegedly using excessive force.
Ted Rose, in the recording, described the struggle’s final minutes and his desperate attempt to hold back his son: “I tried to wrap my arms around him as much as I could. I grab him around the left side. I said, ‘John, stop. He’s going to hurt you,’ and, right at that moment, that’s when the officer shot John three times – pow, pow, pow.”
Rose told the attorney that McEntire then shoved Johnathan away from him. He son fell back on the bed where the violent struggle took place.
“I can see Johnny bleeding everywhere,” Rose said. “He was lying face down. His knees were on the ground.” McEntire, Rose said, had holstered his weapon. Blood trickled from the deputy’s nose.
It had been Karen Rose’s idea to call the Sheriff’s Department for help, she testified Monday. She was Johnathan’s mother, caregiver and best friend, she said from the stand. The Rose family had recently moved to Sacramento County from Placer County. That meant setting up an appointment to switch Johnathan’s mental health services to Sacramento.
The appointment lasted around two hours. Afterward they returned home, and Johnathan Rose remained “very distressed,” his mother said. A call to the sheriff, Karen reasoned, would have Johnathan transported to mental health “so they could evaluate him, talk to him, make sure he’s OK.”
That January night in 2012 was a frigid one, but Karen waited on the patio for responders to arrive before a brief bathroom break. Johnathan looked as if he was asleep as she walked past, she recalled.
Karen Rose had just opened the bathroom door into the hallway when she heard the gunshots.
Later, in a quiet room inside Mercy San Juan Medical Center, Ted and Karen Rose were joined by other clergy, then a doctor.
“He said he was sorry, that my son had passed. I don’t remember anything else he said,” Karen Rose testified.
In the years since that day, “I feel like there’s a huge hole in my heart,” she said from the witness stand. “I don’t know what to do. My life’s totally changed. It’s not even the same life.”