On the week of the one-year anniversary of the death of Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy Robert French, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office released a report giving new details of the shooting that left the deputy dead and two officers injured.
This is the first officer-involved shooting review for any shooting in 2017.
French was fatally shot Aug. 30, 2017, by fugitive Thomas Daniel Littlecloud as he was shooting and fleeing from officers who were pursuing him in connection to a car theft ring at the Ramada Inn on Auburn Boulevard.
Littlecloud fired at officers at least 39 times and led them on a dangerous, high speed chase through busy streets, weaving in and out of traffic, driving over the center median and against traffic at speeds topping 100 mph, the report said.
Littlecloud was armed with an AK-47, three 9 mm handguns, a military grenade with its pin intact, a collapsible baton, and had $13,000 in a fanny pack he was wearing when he died. Forensic investigators also found methamphetamine, amphetamine, MDMA, MDA and midazolam in his blood.
Littlecloud was shot at least three times and died at the hospital from gunshot wound complications, the coroner’s report said.
The District Attorney’s Office deemed the shooting of Littlecloud lawful.
“Each of the officers clearly had the right to act in defense of themselves, in defense of their fellow officers, and in defense of the public,” the report said.
The flurry of events were set into motion earlier that day, around 10 a.m., when officers from the Sacramento County Auto Theft Task Force saw two women get into a stolen BMW in the hotel parking lot, the report states. They followed the stolen car on what escalated to a high-speed chase, and eventually arrested the driver, Priscilla Prendez. She was on searchable probation and investigators found she had a key to Room 234.
Officers returned to the Ramada and knocked on the door to Room 234, when they didn’t hear any answer they used a passkey provided by the hotel. From inside, Littlecloud pushed the door close and then fired his Ak-47 through the door, hitting two California Highway Patrol officers, John Wilson and David Woodruff.
Wilson was struck in the hand and lower back, and Woodruff was shot in shoulder, the report said.
Officers returned fire but Littlecloud fled out the back of the hotel room, jumping off the balcony.
Littlecloud on the lam at the time of the shooting, eluding law enforcement since July after failing to appear in two court hearings for separate cases, one of which involved a federal indictment charging him with methamphetamine and weapons possession, as well as identity theft, The Sacramento Bee reported shortly after the incident last year. The second case stemmed from a 2015 weapons case in Sonoma County in which a judge issued a $50,000 bench warrant for his arrest.
Littlecloud’s adoptive parents had put up their home as collateral for his $100,000 bail in 2016, The Bee reported. A federal judge ruled that they would not lose their home after he skipped bail.
According to the district attorney’s report, Littlecloud reportedly told others that he refused to go back to prison, and that “police would have to kill him because he was going to shoot at them if they tried to arrest him,” the report said.
French, who was on patrol in the area, responded to calls of shots fired and returned fire in the parking lot of the hotel.
As Littlecloud made his way to a Dodge Challenger in the parking lot, he leveled his AK-47 at French and fired several shots. A second officer joined French behind his patrol car and noticed French had blood near his left ear. French said he was hit by some shrapnel, the report states.
Littlecloud then took off in the gray Challenger, speeding down Fulton, Marconi and Watt avenues in Arden Arcade. Officers finally caught him after he hit a center median on El Camino Avenue at about 100 mph, causing his car to become airborne and crash into a utility pole.
Back at the Ramada, French realized he had been shot in the chest. French, who was 21-year veteran of the department assigned to the North Patrol Division, died on his way to the hospital.
He is survived by three adult children, grandchildren and his girlfriend. His name was added to the California Peace Officers Memorial during a ceremony this year.