Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is seeking answers from Yolo County officials after video surfaced Thursday showing two Yolo deputies dropping a homeless man off at a McDonald’s north of downtown Sacramento.
A video published by the Public Safety News shows the deputies dropping the man off Wednesday night next to the fast food restaurant on Richards Boulevard in the River District, an industrial neighborhood along Interstate 5 north of the downtown railyard.
Public Safety News wrote on its website that an employee “observed two Yolo County Sheriff’s units roll quickly into the south end of the parking lot and stop crosswise across the parking spaces against the building.” The video shows the two deputies watch as the man unloads his cart and plastic shopping bags from their patrol vehicle. The deputies left after the man unloaded his belongings, according to Public Safety News.
“My colleagues and I are very unhappy about the implications of your office’s action in this case,” Steinberg said in a letter to Yolo County Sheriff Tom Lopez, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and the Sacramento City Council.
The unidentified homeless man later told Public Safety News that he had been walking around in Clarksburg “because I was going to try and find a job picking grapes in the morning.”
When asked if he knew why he was dropped off, the man said he thought the deputies were “transformers.”
In a statement issued to Public Safety News, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office said the deputies had been dispatched to South River Road for a call of a suspicious person. They found the homeless man about an hour later and he told deputies he was from the Midwest and was unfamiliar with the area.
“The area where the man was contacted is rural and void of any type of services,” Lt. Matt Davis of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement included in Steinberg’s letter. “The subject requested a ride back to Sacramento and asked to be dropped off where he could find some food (he was offered money from the deputies but declined as he had his own).“
“We understand the appearance this activity had,” Davis added. “Unfortunately, this individual inadvertently made his way into a very rural area of unincorporated Yolo County leaving him without options. The man was not found to meet the criteria for an involuntary detention due to his mental health challenges and providing him and his belongings with a transport into an area (with) nearby services was determined to be the best solution at the time.”
In his Friday letter to the sheriff, Steinberg said Sacramento already has serious homeless challenges and city officials often hear rumors that other jurisdictions “are busing people to Sacramento.”
“We are doing more than our fair share (to address homelessness),” Steinberg said.
Jenna Abbott, executive director of the River District Business Association and Improvement District, where the man was dropped off, said she was “shocked” when she saw the video.
“Anecdotally, we hear that (busing) happens all the time, but it’s not often that we get video of it,” she said.
“What I do know for sure is that this is not the right thing to do,” she said. “This is not the right thing to do for this person. You don’t treat that man like a piece of litter.”
Steinberg closed his letter to Sheriff Lopez with a list of fifteen questions, asking if this conduct is the “best solution.”
“Will you evaluate this incident in good faith to determine how your office and deputies can better serve a vulnerable transient population within your county that does not conclude the best solution is transporting them into a city outside your jurisdiction?” he wrote.