The call came over Deputy David McEntire’s radio at 9:49 p.m. – a “5150,” a reference to the welfare code section identifying mentally-ill subjects.
McEntire, who recently had returned to north area patrol after being assigned to the Sacramento County jail during a round of budget cuts, headed to a North Highlands address.
While en route, the sheriff’s dispatcher told the deputy that the homeowner had called 911, saying his son – 24 years old and a schizophrenic – was being violent. The caller’s wife and 27-year-old son were also in the home, the dispatcher said.
Minutes later, McEntire was greeted by Ted Rose, who peered out of the partially open front door of his home. “Hello, officer,” he said in a hushed voice. “Thank you for coming. Come on in. He’s asleep right over there.”
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Rose pointed to his son, Johnathan, who was sleeping on a mattress in what had been the family’s dining room. Testifying before a federal jury at his civil trial Tuesday, McEntire said he found the sight unusual, but he also thought that the situation already had resolved itself.
What happened next on the evening of Jan. 17, 2012, set into motion the events that would leave an unarmed Johnathan Rose dead, beaten, bloodied and shot by the deputy called by his family to help him.
McEntire on Tuesday was back on the witness stand in Sacramento federal court, countering allegations from the Rose family that he used excessive force in his encounter with Jonathan, first with blows over the young man’s head with his department-issued flashlight, then with three shots at close range from his .40-caliber service weapon.
Johnathan Rose had been angry and anxious for hours before and after a meeting with mental health counselors earlier that day, and grew more agitated as afternoon became evening, his parents had testified. Ted Rose was heard posthumously via video deposition –he died at a local care home Sept. 19, a day before he was to testify in federal court.
McEntire testified that he saw Johnathan Rose lying in bed. Then the young man rolled over, agitated.
“Johnathan said, ‘What the (expletive) do you want?’” McEntire testified. “He ripped the blanket off, got up on both feet (and asked) ‘Are you going to take me to jail? Let’s (expletive) go.’”
McEntire told jurors that Rose marched toward him, then spun around and clasped his hands behind his head, before he spun around again and threw a punch that missed. McEntire responded with his flashlight, landing a blow he said was meant for Rose’s shoulder but struck the man’s head instead, sending Rose crashing into a wall.
McEntire insisted that he ended up on the mattress fending off Rose’s attack while attempting to radio dispatchers that he was now in combat with the man. Ted Rose tried to pull Johnathan away, McEntire said, but the son landed his punches on the deputy.
“They hurt,” McEntire said. “I felt I was going to go unconscious, and I continued to be punched. I was sinking into the mattress.”
McEntire pulled his weapon, firing his gun three times. “When he stopped fighting, I stopped shooting,” he said.
The time was 9:56 p.m.