‘What makes them above the law?’ Mother describes son’s fatal shooting by deputies
The Sacramento County District Attorney ruled Tuesday that deputies were justified in the fatal shooting of an emotionally disturbed African American man on the shoulder of Highway 50 in Rancho Cordova more than a year ago.
In May of 2017, Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies killed Mikel McIntyre, 32, near Zinfindel Drive, shooting at him 28 times, pausing to let a motorist drive by. They eventually hit McIntyre in the back at least six times.
The district attorney concluded the fatal shooting was lawful and the three deputies involved will not be prosecuted.
“McIntyre posed a significant threat of death or serious physical harm to the officers and others. Accordingly, we will take no action,” according to the report from Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.
Schubert found two of the deputies – Jeffrey Wright and Ken Becker – fired shots in self defense. Wright fired two rounds and Becker fired eight, according to the report.
A third deputy, Gabriel Rodriguez, fired 18 shots across lanes of the freeway. He was found to be justified in his actions because McIntyre was attempting to escape “after he committed forcible and atrocious felony attacks” on the other two deputies, the report said.
McIntyre and his mother, Brigett McIntyre, were visiting family in Sacramento and Mikel began behaving strangely. Brigett and other family members called the fire department for medical aid and, and later, the police. Rodriguez was one of the responding deputies, the district attorney’s report said.
Brigett told The Bee her son was having an emotional breakdown. She wanted him to be held for his safety until he could calm down. The DA’s report stated Rodriguez performed a mental health evaluation on McIntyre and concluded that “detention was not necessary.”
Later that day, Brigett took her son shopping. As they returned to their car, she asked Mikel for the keys.
Witnesses reported an altercation between mother and son. Some called 9-1-1.
Wright was the first responder. He grappled with Mikel, who was reported to have struck Wright in the head with a rock before he fled on foot, according to the report.
During the chase, Wright, Rodriguez and Becker fired at McIntyre. Rodriguez fired 18 bullets.
“Deputy Rodriguez later stated that he fired these shots to prevent McIntyre from causing a traffic collision and fleeing towards commercial areas to the south,” the report said.
The district attorney’s report differs from a report written by Rick Braziel, the Sacramento County Inspector General. Braziel estimated Rodriguez was about 58 feet away when he began firing at McIntyre. The district attorney’s report, using an estimate given by Rodriguez, said the deputy was 25 to 40 feet away.
McIntyre was hit seven times and died after being transported to UC Davis Medical Center.
Six shots hit him from the rear, according to the coroner’s report, referenced in the district attorney’s analysis. The direction of the seventh shot, which hit his head but did not penetrate bone, could not be determined.
Ballistics analysis found that all the projectiles recovered from McIntyre’s body came from shots fired by Becker, a K9 officer.
Schubert’s report also includes analysis of the event from David Blake, a use-of-force and “human factors” expert.
Blake found that all three deputies’ use of deadly force was “reasonable and in line with contemporary police practices.”
“His violent actions and continued flight showed his willingness to continue assaulting deputies with deadly force, as well as his danger to the public. Deputy Rodriguez was concerned McIntyre would flee southbound into traffic,” the report said.
“Deputy Rodriguez was justified in shooting at McIntyre after the forcible and atrocious felonies that McIntyre had just committed,” the report said. “Given his conduct threatening serious physical harm upon multiple officers, McIntyre being at large posed an inherent threat to society.”
The report said “no specific warning was apparently given of the officers’ intent to use deadly force,” but found “such a warning was not feasible nor required.” The district attorney analysis said the first officer, Wright, was responding to an imminent threat. Becker and Rodriquez were not required to announce their intent to fire because McIntyre had “already ignored police sirens and multiple commands.”
McIntyre was “on notice that deadly force would be used, as Deputy Wright had fired upon and apparently missed him,” the report said.
The report emphasizes the district attorney’s analysis is not meant to review the sheriff’s department policies or tactics.
“As stated previously, in hindsight, after careful consideration of all of the surrounding circumstances, there may have been tactical approaches that would not have involved the use of deadly force,” it reads in one instance.
McIntyre, while the DA deliberated, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the county of Sacramento and the city of Rancho Cordova to force disclosure of what happened to her son.
Braziel’s report, published in August, questioned the tactics of officers and whether deadly force was necessary. However, Braziel noted his was not a legal conclusion and that only Schubert could do so. Focusing on deputies’ tactics, Braziel produced a series of recommendations meant for future actions. They included focusing on ways to de-escalate violent confrontations.
After Braziel produced his report, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones locked Braziel out of all buildings used by the sheriff’s department. Jones also recently stated that he fully expected Schubert’s office to clear his officers, which she did on Tuesday.