Sacramento Police release body cam footage of man wrestling officer to the ground, stealing duty weapon
The Sacramento Police Department released body camera footage and 911 audio Thursday from a February shooting in which a man allegedly took an officer’s gun and tried to kill him in East Sacramento.
The shooting itself was not captured on video, with police saying the officer’s body-worn camera fell off his uniform as he was trying to detain the suspect at H and 39th streets after a foot chase that began at a local hospital.
The suspect, identified as Juan Carlos Heras-Castro, 33, was at Mercy General Hospital for a mental health evaluation on Feb. 22 when he ran from the officer.
He was at the hospital under police detention after callers reported a man carrying a knife and wandering in the middle of the street.
“We felt this subject needed help and we were trying to get him help,” said Sgt. Vance Chandler, a department spokesman. “Unfortunately it turned into a stage where he was uncooperative.”
The four-minute body camera video starts at the hospital and shows Heras-Castro with crossed arms in a hospital room.
Seconds later, he bolts out of the building.
The officer then runs after him and alerts dispatchers.
The officer tells Heras-Castro to stop running, but he continues.
“I want to help you, man,” the officer says in Spanish as both men slow down at H and 39th Streets.
As the officer approaches Heras-Castro to physically detain him, Heras-Castro screams at him, telling him, “Don’t do that, don’t do that.”
The camera then falls to the ground and only shows a view of the sky as both men move out of the frame.
Heras-Castro screams, saying, “We’re going to kill ourselves."
After a few seconds of what sounds like a struggle between both men, three gunshots are heard, all within a few seconds of each other.
The officer was eventually able to detain the man with the help of an off-duty firefighter and suffered only minor injuries from the incident, police say.
Heras-Castro was booked into the Sacramento Main Jail for attempted murder of a police officer.
Police Chief Daniel Hahn released the video to “inform our community on the complex, difficult and sometimes dangerous job of our police officers," the department said in a statement.
Police said they were not required to release the video under the city's use-of-force policy, which requires that the department release footage of officer-involved shootings and other critical incidents.
Seven audio files, which include 911 audio from Heras-Castro’s initial arrest and the firing of the officer’s gun at 39th and H streets, were also released.
In one call, a panicked woman reports a man wearing a gray sweater firing a gun. She tells a dispatcher a police officer has the man pinned to the ground.
“Is the police officer with him?” the dispatcher asks.
“Yes, he’s laying on top of him,’ the woman says.
Another woman tells dispatchers her husband went to help the officer detain the man. When the dispatcher asks if the officer or someone else fired shots, she says she doesn’t know.
The dispatcher later asks if it was the person firing at the officer. She says she couldn’t see but could ask her husband.
“I heard the shots, I heard two shots and saw an officer struggling with the man. My husband just got out and ran to hold the guy down,” she said.
Chandler said video footage from Heras-Castro’s initial contact with police exists, but the department chose to limit the video release to the “major incident.”
Police union president Tim Davis said the video shows how quickly incidents can escalate for officers.
“Someone who is compliant one minute can quickly become a threat in a blink of an eye,” Davis said. “I think it goes to show the professionalism and care that the officers have with the community.”