Crime - Sacto 911

Shoplifting suspect killed in officer-involved shooting identified as Folsom man

A sheriff’s vehicle at the scene of the shooting.
A sheriff’s vehicle at the scene of the shooting. video image

The Sacramento County Coroner’s office released the name of a suspected shoplifter killed Tuesday by a Rancho Cordova police officer who feared for his safety.

He was identified as Justin Prescott, 30, of Folsom.

Sacramento County sheriff’s officials on Wednesday declined to release additional details in the death of Prescott who was shot in a Rancho Cordova Safeway parking lot Tuesday night.

Authorities say Prescott shoplifted at the Walmart next door and was behaving erratically when he was shot by at least one sheriff’s deputy assigned to the Rancho Cordova Police Department.

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull said Prescott was seen cutting tags off merchandise at the Walmart in the 10600 block of Folsom Boulevard and attempting to take the items without paying for them.

The Sheriff’s Department said Prescott pulled a sharp-edged weapon on security officers who confronted him, saying he would rather kill himself than be arrested.

The security officers then backed away from Prescott and waited for police.

When Rancho Cordova officers arrived, they found a man who matched the description of Prescott near the neighboring Safeway. Prescott still had the weapon and refused the officers’ commands to drop it.

Turnbull said Prescott was “erratic” and that officers used a Taser without effect. They tried a second time, but the Taser still had no effect.

An officer, who Turnbull said feared for his own safety, then shot the suspect.

Officers administered aid until Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District paramedics took Prescott to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

He said the two officers involved in the confrontation – both sergeants – are 17- and 19-year veterans of the Sheriff’s Department.

The investigation into the fatal shooting will be conducted by the sheriff’s homicide bureau and Professional Standards Division. One of the sergeants will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

While it is unclear whether the suspect was planning a “suicide by cop,” that phenomenon has increasingly been documented and studied in recent decades. A 2009 article in the Journal of Forensic Sciences indicated that more than 1 in 3 officer-involved shootings fit those criteria.

That study, authored by three researchers, was based on data from more than 90 police departments in the United States and Canada during an 11-month period spanning 2006 and 2007.

The Bee’s Bill Lindelof contributed to this report.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang