Crime - Sacto 911

Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What happened to handcuffed suspect shot by Elk Grove police?

What happened to the handcuffed suspect who was shot in the face while in custody in the back seat of an Elk Grove police cruiser several years ago?

– Kent, Elk Grove

John Hesselbein, a suspect in a domestic disturbance call, was shot by an Elk Grove police officer Jan. 30, 2011, while handcuffed and seated in the back of a patrol car. The round grazed Hesselbein’s cheek and he recovered.

Police had responded to a call from Hesselbein’s wife, who said he was drunk and abusive. According to Sacramento Superior Court online records, a misdemeanor charge of violating a protective order filed against Hesselbein was dismissed.

In August 2011, an attorney for Hesselbein filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the Elk Grove Police Department of using excessive force. According to federal court online records, a trial in the civil case is scheduled for March 30, 2015.

Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully absolved Officer Paul Beckham of any criminal liability, saying that Beckham acted lawfully when he fired at Hesselbein after officers became concerned that he still had a gun.

No weapon was found on Hesselbein when officers searched him, for the second time, after the shooting. But Scully argued that Beckham had reason to believe Hesselbein posed a threat, and that he had a right to act in self-defense and in defense of his fellow officers, according to stories in The Sacramento Bee. Scully said the review by the District Attorney’s Office did not address whether Beckham could have used some other method in dealing with the potentially dangerous situation.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.