Crime - Sacto 911

DA clears Rocklin police in fatal shooting of man with realistic toy pistol

The Placer County District Attorney’s Office announced that it has cleared Rocklin police officers of any criminal conduct in the the February shooting death of a man who was armed with an airsoft pistol that had been painted to look like a real gun.

Lorenzo Antoine Cruz, 23, of Sacramento was shot by officers Feb. 25 after ramming a gate in a residential neighborhood and breaking into a home. When officers located Cruz and ordered him to surrender, he failed to comply and officers saw he had what appeared to be a firearm. Cruz was shot when he pointed the weapon at one of the officers.

Police later determined that the gun was a replica firearm that had been painted silver to look like a real gun, according to police.

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Wilson stated his findings following a review of the case in a letter to Rocklin police Chief Chad Butler dated March 3. The District Attorney’s Office released the letter Thursday. Wilson said he reviewed statements made by officers in the case, statements made by eyewitnesses, and audio and video recordings related to the incident.

Based on the accounts, the letter states, “There is no evidence of any criminal conduct on the part of the involved officers or any evidence of inappropriate conduct that would warrant any action by this office.”

Police first encountered Cruz when they attempted to stop his vehicle for expired registration, according to the District Attorney’s letter. Cruz drove off at high speed. Officers determined a pursuit would cause too much risk to motorists and other people in the area, but they obtained a description of the vehicle and the license plate number.

Police later received a 911 call from a resident reporting that the same man was behaving in a bizarre manner and had rammed his vehicle into a gate in a residential neighborhood. Witnesses reported that they were confronted by the man, and described him as angry and aggressive.

One witness reported that Cruz first attempted to enter his home through a sliding glass door, then broke a glass laundry room door and entered the home. Cruz reportedly retreated when the homeowner confronted him with a weapon.

Cruz then got into a neighbor’s vehicle and attempted to flee, but was confronted by the three Rocklin police officers.

“It is not clear from the evidence why Cruz was in Rocklin or what motivated his conduct,” Wilson states in the letter. “It is clear, however, that he had engaged in bizarre behavior that was placing the citizens of the Rocklin community at risk. It is equally clear that the officers that located him and attempted to arrest the defendant were in reasonable fear for their life at the time they discharged their weapons at the defendant. Had the officers failed to take the action that they did they would not only have placed themselves in danger, but also would have placed the citizens of the community in danger.”

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy