Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies were justified in shooting a man who sent officers on a predawn manhunt through a Fair Oaks neighborhood following two calls of a home burglary last year, a Sacramento County District Attorney review of the shooting said.
Jesse Attaway, 41, was fatally shot by two sheriff’s deputies Sept. 23 moments after the officers said he pointed a black wallet at them and took what looked like a shooting stance, the review said.
The two deputies who stopped Attaway, identified as Andrew Cater and Bao Mai, believed he was a suspect in two home burglary incidents reported about 1 1/2 miles away. They got out of their car and gave him multiple directives to stop and show them his hands.
At first, Attaway kept his back to the officers and continued to walk away in the poorly lit area near the coroner of Piedra Way and Mohawk Way, the review said. Attaway then reached into his waistband, pulled something out, turned and positioned himself as if he was aiming at the officers. Both officers said they believed Attaway, who was standing about 50 feet back, was going to shoot them.
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“Given these circumstances, it was reasonable for the deputies to believe that Attaway was pointing a gun at them and was going to shoot them,” the DA’s office said in a memorandum to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones summarizing the review’s findings. “He appeared to pose a significant and immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to Deputies Cater and Mai.”
The officers fired multiple rounds at Attaway, and fired on him a second time after he raised the object in his hand. A third series of shots were fired after Attaway “stumbled to the ground and raised his hand,” the memo said.
Attaway was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. No gun was found. The review said Mai fired seven rounds in the shooting while Cater fired either 11 or 12.
Attaway matched the description of a man suspected of entering one home and attempting to enter the home of a neighbor earlier that morning, authorities said. The first call came in just before 5 a.m. reporting that a man had entered a home on Tuscon Circle in Fair Oaks. An interview with investigators revealed the homeowner found Attaway, whom he did not know, “standing in the front room holding a carton of milk from the refrigerator.”
Attaway, startled, asked the man not to shoot him. He also asked if he could have the homeowner’s car keys.
The homeowner insisted Attaway leave, which he did, the review found. Shortly after, Attaway went to the home next door and tried to go inside through a sliding glass door. A woman living in the home, who saw Attaway as he was approaching, ran to the door and held it shut, screaming for her husband. Attaway fled after her husband came to the living room holding a baseball bat.
The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office determined Attaway died from multiple gunshot wounds, including one to his head and right abdomen. Toxicology reports showed amphetamine and methamphetamine in Attaway’s blood, though the amount was not listed in the report. A small plastic bag with .16 grams of methamphetamine was found in Attaway’s pocket.
The report said Attaway was connected to a home robbery and car theft reported in Rocklin the same morning, at around 3:45 a.m. Attaway left voice messages to both of his daughters about 15 minutes later, saying police were going to kill him and that he was “going away because the police were after him.”
Attaway’s father, Jim, said he did not agree with the outcome of the review. He said despite the circumstances, he did not believe deputies had the right to shoot his son.
“He wasn’t close enough to hurt them. He didn’t have a weapon,” Jim Attaway said.