After being chased by patrol cars, double homicide suspect Eric Arnold stopped his truck, opened his door and fired his handgun in quick succession at the officers behind him last September.
Photos released that day showed two bullet holes piercing a patrol vehicle's driver side door, missing the Sacramento Police Department emblem. A third bullet hole entered through the car's front window. Two officers were sent to the hospital after being struck by gunfire.
The incident has spurred the Sacramento Police Department to move forward with a plan to equip all patrol vehicles with ballistic door panels to increase officer safety during high-risk stops, a city staff report shows.
The Sacramento City Council will decide Tuesday whether to approve $442,000 to buy 229 bullet-resistant panels, enough to retrofit each patrol car. Funding for the gear was set aside earlier this year from Measure U sales tax dollars.
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The fabric panels are slid in between a car's existing door frame, providing an extra layer of protection from oncoming bullets. Manufacturer Angel Armor claims to have seen their product take up to 163 rounds, though the company does not provide more detail on its website.
Currently, the department's patrol car doors aren't reinforced any differently than a typical car door, said Sgt. Vance Chandler, a spokesman for the police department.
“Officers often use the doors of their patrol vehicles as cover during felony vehicle stops,” Chandler said. “With armored doors on our patrol vehicles, we would provide more protection for our officers and enhance officer safety.”
In the Sept. 7, 2017 shootout, two officers were hospitalized in their gunfire exchange with Arnold, who was wanted for allegedly killing a mother and daughter in their Meadowview home that day.
Both officers were briefly hospitalized, while Arnold, 42, died that day. The Sept. 7 shooting unfolded on 27th Avenue near Franklin Boulevard after officers attempted a vehicle stop because Arnold was driving a truck believed to be connected to the double homicide.
A total of five department officers returned fire after Arnold stopped his car.
One officer was standing behind a patrol car door when he was struck in his bulletproof vest by gunfire. The other was sitting in the driver’s seat of the same car and was hit in the leg.
“This incident highlighted the need to install ballistic door panels in all patrol vehicles to improve officer safety,” the city staff report says.
Police will buy the 229 panels through a cooperative purchase agreement with ProForce Law Enforcement, a California retail store specializing in guns and tactical gear for law enforcement agencies, police officers and first responders. The door shields come from the brand Angel Armor, which tout the panel's easy installation and light weight.
The staff report says the panels can be moved from one car to another. The city's Department of Public Works will complete the installation.
Department officials estimate it will take two to three years for all panels to be installed if the agreement is approved.