Crime - Sacto 911

With Sacramento police chief watching, accused cop killer makes first court appearance

Watch the court appearance of Adel Ramos, charged with killing Officer Tara O’Sullivan

Adel Ramos, who is charged with shooting Sacramento police Officer Tara O'Sullivan, is arraigned in court at the Sacramento Main Jail on Monday, June 24, 2019. He appeared wearing a bandage over a forehead wound officials say was self-inflicted.
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Adel Ramos, who is charged with shooting Sacramento police Officer Tara O'Sullivan, is arraigned in court at the Sacramento Main Jail on Monday, June 24, 2019. He appeared wearing a bandage over a forehead wound officials say was self-inflicted.

With the leadership of the Sacramento Police Department looking on somberly, accused cop killer Adel Ramos made his first court appearance Monday wearing a large white bandage over a forehead wound that officials say he sustained by ramming his head against his cell bunk.

Ramos, 45, spoke only to confirm his identity as Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael A. Savage read the felony charges he faces in connection with Wednesday night’s slaying of Officer Tara O’Sullivan, a 26-year-old Sacramento State graduate who was gunned down while helping a woman move out of her home following a domestic dispute.

Officials say Ramos was armed with .223-caliber assault rifles and killed O’Sullivan, then held police at bay for nearly eight hours before surrendering early Thursday.

He was being held in the Sacramento County jail on suicide watch when he rammed his head into his cell bunk Sunday night. Authorities took him to a hospital, then returned him to a psychiatric cell in the jail without a bunk.

Ramos, a carpenter with a long history of domestic violence allegations, appeared in court with his wrists shackled at his waist and three Sacramento sheriff’s deputies standing watch inside the courtroom jail cell. Five other deputies stood watch in the courtroom, where Chief Daniel Hahn and other police commanders sat quietly.

Hahn sat in the fifth row of seats close to the cell and listened with his eyes closed as Savage read the charges stemming from the slaying of O’Sullivan, the first Sacramento police officer to die in the line of duty in 20 years.

Savage appointed public defender Diane Howard to represent Ramos, who did not enter a plea Monday. He is due back in court July 22.

O’Sullivan, a rookie officer who was accompanied by her training partner, was gunned down by rifle fire and remained in the backyard of a Redwood Avenue home in North Sacramento for nearly 45 minutes while her colleagues were pinned down.

Police have said O’Sullivan’s wounds were not survivable and have defended their handling of the shooting.

Chief Assistant Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard was in court for prosecutors Monday and later ripped as “misstatements” criticism of police and speculation that O’Sullivan might have been saved if officers acted more rapidly.

“There was nothing that could’ve been done to save her life,” said Norgaard, one of two prosecutors who convicted cop killer Luis Bracamontes last year in a death penalty case.

Ramos could face the death penalty under the charges filed so far, although District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office has not made a decision on that yet.

“It’s going to take a long time to process the crime scene,” Norgaard told reporters outside the courtroom, adding that the district attorney’s office has an “internal procedure” to determine whether prosecutors will pursue the killing as a death penalty case.

Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on capital punishment, prosecutors have said they will continue to pursue the death penalty in cases that are warranted and that could be carried out after Newsom leaves office.

O’Sullivan is scheduled to be buried Thursday, and friends have launched a social media campaign urging people to take a weekly challenge of exercises based on her badge number, 349.

The effort is called alternately the #Badge349challenge or #Tara349challenge.

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Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.
Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.
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