Deadly year for Sacramento-area law enforcement, with 3 killed on duty

The slaying of El Dorado County sheriff’s Deputy Brian Ishmael early Wednesday comes during a particularly deadly time in the Sacramento region, where several officers have been gunned down in recent years.

This year alone, two other officers have been slain in the region, both in ambush shootings.

Sacramento police Officer Tara O’Sullivan, a 26-year-old rookie officer living out her dream to join the department, was killed June 19 in an ambush while answering a domestic violence call.

A suspect in that case awaits trial in Sacramento.

Six months earlier, Davis police Officer Natalie Corona, 22, was gunned down in downtown Davis while investigating a traffic accident on Jan. 10.

Her killer, who also ambushed her from behind, later committed suicide as police surrounded his home.

“We’ve had so many tragedies just in this region,” Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones said Wednesday. “And while officer line-of-duty deaths may be stable or even on a downward trend, officer ambushes are way up.”

Jones noted that it is not clear yet whether Ishamel was ambushed, but said such attacks “are just difficult to prepare for” and are being propagated by a “subculture” that is at odds with “public support for law enforcement that is as high as it’s ever been.”

“It’s undeniable that officer ambushes and those types of unprovoked and planned attacks are way up,” Jones said. “You could certainly plan for officer safety, but there are certain things you cannot plan for.”

Jones’ department, which lists its killed deputies on its “End of Watch” page, has lost three deputies in just the last five years, including Deputy Danny Oliver, who was gunned down on Oct. 24, 2014, by Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican citizen who went on a rampage that also killed Placer County sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr.

Bracamontes was convicted and sentenced to death and is now being held at San Quentin State Prison.

Sacramento Deputy Robert A. French was killed Aug. 30, 2017, at a Fulton Avenue motel during a probation operation. His killer was later shot and killed by police as he tried to flee.

Sacramento Deputy Mark V. Stasyuk died Sept. 17, 2018, in am ambush shooting at a local business. His alleged killer, Anton Lemon Paris, awaits trial.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office has not lost a deputy since Feb. 26, 1991, when Deputy Michael L. Cole died in a car crash, according to its website.

Before that, Deputy Ora Clyde Owen was killed in a “vehicular assault” on Oct. 22, 1961. That killing came almost a hundred years after Deputy Joseph Staples died from gunfire July 1, 1864.

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Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.