Mendocino deputy DA involved in downtown confrontation, shooting

A Mendocino County deputy district attorney shot and wounded another man on a downtown Sacramento street following an argument early Thursday morning, according to police.

Deputy District Attorney Damon Gardner and a colleague were walking near the intersection of 15th and L streets at the northeast corner of Capitol Park just after midnight when they passed two men, Sacramento police spokesman Doug Morse said. Words were exchanged, and a physical confrontation began.

The fight didn’t go well for Gardner and “he ended up on the ground,” said Mike Geniella, a spokesman with the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.

Gardner then allegedly pulled a gun and shot one of the men in the upper body. “He contends it was self-defense,” Geniella said.

The victim, whose name has not been released, was treated at a local hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Gardner likely did not know the man he shot, Geniella and Morse said. Neither said what started the argument between the two groups.

Before the shooting, Gardner had been drinking at a bar, Geniella said. Gardner has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Geniella said, but that may not help his case if it is determined Gardner fired after consuming alcohol.

Sacramento police investigators are working with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether to file charges, Morse said. No arrests had been made as of Friday afternoon. Gardner is not considered a flight risk, Morse said.

“When you have a self-defense element to an investigation, it’s important we look at it from all angles,” Morse said.

Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster placed Gardner on administrative leave pending the results of investigations into the shooting. Gardner had already been on medical leave since mid-August.

The colleague walking with Gardner – also a deputy district attorney for Mendocino County – is not suspected of wrongdoing, Geniella said. She was in Sacramento for a training seminar.

A seven-year employee of the the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, Gardner has no disciplinary record with the State Bar of California. He attended Sonoma State University as an undergraduate and did his graduate work at the New England School of Law in Boston, state records show.

Gardner did not respond to an email seeking comment Friday afternoon.