Crime - Sacto 911

Slain deputy Danny Oliver remembered as dedicated cop with soft heart

A photo from the last golf tournament slain deputy Danny Oliver attended was handed out by his family on Monday, October, 27, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
A photo from the last golf tournament slain deputy Danny Oliver attended was handed out by his family on Monday, October, 27, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.

It was a Friday afternoon last October, and the Oliver family had just left home on vacation. Then came word that six police officers had been wounded during a gunbattle in Roseville.

“We’re going home, aren’t we?” Susan Oliver said to her husband, Danny.

“Yeah,” the Sacramento sheriff’s deputy replied.

And with that, Danny Oliver turned the family RV around and headed to work.

Oliver was a dedicated street cop who always showed up for work an hour early and went after the worst criminals on his beat, his widow said Monday. He also had a soft heart and enjoyed connecting with the Sacramento County community he was charged with protecting, answering emails from concerned citizens and never declining to attend a neighborhood meeting.

Danny Oliver, 47, was shot and killed Friday in the parking lot of a Motel 6 on Arden Way. The man suspected of killing Oliver, Marcelo Marquez, has also been accused in the shooting death of Placer County sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr., that same day in Auburn. Marquez and his wife, Janelle Monroy, are scheduled to be arraigned in court Tuesday.

Appearing before a row of television cameras at the headquarters of the Sacramento sheriff’s deputy union, Susan Oliver said she wanted the community to know that law enforcement officers like her husband and Davis were “people just like anyone else.”

“He’d say, ‘I’m just a man and I put my pants on one leg at a time, I put my shirt on one arm at a time. I just wear different clothes than other people,’” Susan Oliver said during a 12-minute conversation with reporters. Wearing a black dress, Oliver’s lower lip quivered and her left hand was clenched into a fist, but she fought back tears as she recalled her husband of 25 years and the father of her two daughters.

Danny Oliver grew up in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood of Sacramento and graduated from Grant High School. Growing up in that tough part of town “allowed him to understand people” and gave him a street sense that served him well as a sheriff’s deputy, Susan Oliver said.

“He saw a lot of not-OK things happening in the community (growing up), and he always wanted to get out of those environments and make those environments better,” she said.

While Danny Oliver’s father was a firefighter and would have enjoyed having his son seek the same professional path, Oliver instead gravitated toward law enforcement. He finished at the top of his class academically at the sheriff’s academy. His wife worked two jobs while Oliver went through the unpaid training.

He joined the Sheriff’s Department 15 years ago, working the graveyard shift for a decade. “He always thought there were more people he could arrest at night,” his wife said.

Oliver preferred to make arrests on serious felony cases over the less serious misdemeanor infractions. His team of problem-oriented policing officers in Sacramento County’s northern neighborhoods was ultra-competitive.

“He loved catching the bad guys,” Susan Oliver said.

But her husband also had a soft side. He once arrested a woman on a serious drug charge. The woman appeared stable and she was with her daughter, so Oliver uncuffed the suspect and let her sit with the young girl. As he left, the suspect’s daughter called Oliver a teddy bear – a term that became his nickname in the department.

He was dedicated to his own family as well. He did CrossFit exercises with his daughters and helped them with their schoolwork. “He never felt like they had to be someone they didn’t want to be,” Susan Oliver said.

Every time he spoke with his wife, they would both end the conversation with an “I love you.” During their last conversation, Danny Oliver told his wife he had finished making her a chicken coop in their yard.

In the years ahead, Susan Oliver said she will recall her husband as a prankster and a hard worker who “gave his life for everyone in his community.”

“He never said he was afraid of dying,” Susan Oliver said. “He always said, ‘You always have to have a little fear. Otherwise, you’re not going to see the things around you that could hurt you.’ He always felt like being a little fearful some of the time was helpful, but he never feared being out there.”

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at

Memorial information

Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver

Donations can be sent to Oliver’s memorial at two locations. The Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association’s address is 1700 I St., Suite 100, Sacramento, 95811. Donations can also be sent to the STAR 6 Foundation, Danny Oliver Memorial Fund, c/o Exchange Bank, 1420 Rocky Ridge Drive, Suite 190, Roseville, 95661.

The memorial fund’s savings account number is 1205002973, and the routing number is 121101985.

Funeral: Monday, 10 a.m. at Adventure Christian Church, 6401 Stanford Ranch Road, Roseville.

Placer County sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr.

Memorial fund is the Detective Michael Davis Jr. Benefit Memorial Fund, account number 2348924032. Checks can be sent to Wells Fargo Bank, 3680 Taylor Road, Loomis, 95650.

Funeral: Nov. 4, 10 a.m. at Adventure Christian Church, 6401 Stanford Ranch Road, Roseville.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee