Sacramento police officials released jarring bodycam footage and confirmed details published in a Sacramento Bee report during a news conference Friday night regarding the shooting death of Officer Tara O’Sullivan.
The news conference, which began 9:20 p.m. from Sacramento Police Headquarters, included comments by Chief Daniel Hahn and began with police showing body cam footage of an officer, with a gun drawn, knocking on the door of a garage before gunfire erupts from behind. The video went on to show the officer, identified as O’Sullivan’s training officer, Daniel Chipp, taking cover and broadcasting the gunman’s use of a high-powered rifle.
“The officers were essentially ambushed,” Hahn said in explaining how the events Wednesday unfolded.
O’Sullivan, who was standing behind her training officer, “was struck by multiple rounds,” said Sgt. Vance Chandler, spokesman for the department. “And they were all rifle rounds, and one of those wounds we know was non-survivable.”
O’Sullivan was shot and killed Wednesday while assisting on a domestic violence call in north Sacramento. The man charged with her murder, Adel Ramos, surrendered to police after an eight-hour standoff.
“Officers went to this location to gather belongings and they did learn (Ramos) had a misdemeanor warrant,” Chandler said in describing what the police knew about the suspect before the attack.
O’Sullivan was one of four officers assisting an officer as he knocked on the door of a detached garage, where the woman wanted more belongings, after finding the front door of the house barricaded shut, Chandler said. By that time, officers had also learned Ramos had two firearms in the house.
He also confirmed previous Bee reporting that police recovered four weapons – two assault rifles, one handgun and one shotgun – inside the Redwood Avenue home where Ramos was. “He used all four. These four weapons were placed strategically throughout the house.” Chandler also said Ramos had barricaded the door and had a large cache of ammunition.
Chandler said that the first BearCat that responded to the incident was struck by gunfire multiple times as police went to rescue O’Sullivan.
“He typically shot rounds at officers anytime he observed any sort of movement. He fired at the armored cars and the officers multiple times,” Hahn said. “It is clear by the suspect’s actions that he was intent on murdering additional officers and was taking action to do just that, repeatedly shooting at officers throughout this incident.”
Officers called in the department’s BearCat, an armored vehicle housed at the police station at 300 Richards Blvd., after the first shots were fired. A patrol officer returned to the station from patrol, Chandler said, loaded the BearCat with equipment and went to the scene.
When they arrived, the BearCat was maneuvered through the back alley to enter the backyard. They knocked down the fence to make a rescue attempt while they continued to be fired upon.
“One officer exited the BearCat and returned fire at the suspect while multiple other officers rescued Tara,” Chandler said. “... as they backed out, the BearCat became disabled. ... And that’s where multiple officers carried Tara in to a patrol vehicle and transported her to the hospital ... a CHP officer was rendering aid.”
Chandler said the reason the BearCat became disabled was “part of what we are processing” as police continue to review Wednesday’s incident.
“We are processing the scene still and examining exactly why the BearCat became disabled,” he said.
After the rescue, Ramos continued to fire on officers for the remainder of the eight-hour standoff, using for a time surveillance cameras he had set up around the backyard, Chandler said. In total, Chandler said Ramos fired at least 30 rounds before giving up.
“This was an ambush-style attack on Sacramento Police officers that lasted for hours. Under the most dangerous and trying circumstances, our officers performed admirably,” Hahn said. “The best proof we have that this is the case is by knowing no additional officers were killed by the suspect and no community members were injured or killed by the suspect.”
“With the facts as we know them today, that is amazing because the suspect was truly intent on harming additional people. I’m extremely proud of how our officers served our community that afternoon and how they served each other.”
On Friday, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office charged Ramos, 45, with four felony counts – murder, attempted murder and two counts of unlawful possession of an assault weapon.
Hahn described his interaction over the years with O’Sullivan, who was one of the first to graduate from a law enforcement program at Sacramento State, as well as his interaction with the family after the incident.
“I knew Officer O’Sullivan and I have talked to her family, Hahn said. “I think they’re going through the same thing all of us are going through. It’s really tough on them.”