Q: Recently, while attending a relative’s funeral at St. Mary’s, I found a marker nearby that elders in my family are also curious about. It says that a 15-year-old named Salvador Sandoval was shot and killed while handcuffed by five Yolo County deputies on Nov. 15, 1979. What happened?
A: Salvador Sandoval, 15, of Broderick was handcuffed and was being removed from a patrol car when he pulled a concealed handgun and shot a Yolo County sheriff’s detective in the parking lot of the sheriff’s substation at Fourth and C streets in the Broderick area of what is now West Sacramento, according to stories in The Sacramento Bee.
After briefly struggling with the wounded detective, 32-year-old James Near, Sandoval reportedly ran toward the street while yelling at a group of several deputies in the parking lot to stay back. Authorities said deputies ordered Sandoval to halt and drop his weapon. When he failed to do so, three deputies fired at the youth, who was struck by five .38 caliber bullets. He was taken to UC Davis Medical Center and died the following day.
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Near suffered a .25 caliber bullet wound in the abdomen but survived the injury.
Authorities said that Sandoval, who was arrested on warrants along with an 18-year-old youth, underwent a pat-down search when he was taken into custody by Near and another deputy after a brief foot chase, and neither was thought to have a weapon. Officials speculated that the handgun may have been lodged against the small of the boy’s back. Sandoval, who was handcuffed with his hands behind him, reportedly shot the detective by pulling his arms around to one side.
A district attorney’s report cleared the three officers involved of any criminal liability. The sheriff’s report concluded that the deputies had adhered to the department’s policy on shooting.
The Sacramento Human Rights Commission, acting on behalf of Sandoval’s family, asked the Yolo County grand jury to review the case. The grand jury foreman said all 13 members of the panel voted not to reopen the investigation, saying they concurred with the results of the district attorney’s investigation and the Sheriff’s Department’s internal affairs inquiry.
According to Yolo County officials, Sandoval had a criminal record, mainly for burglary and theft, that began when he was 11 years old.