A use of force investigation is underway after Sacramento police shot and killed a man armed with knives whom officers say came toward them in an aggressive manner Friday morning in South Sacramento.
Three police officers who fired shots during the incident are on administrative leave, according to the police department.
The incident started with reports of a man acting suspiciously. He was detained, but escaped custody and was later shot on a nearby street. The man was killed. The officers were uninjured, said Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Bryce Heinlein.
Police said the incident began on the 7600 block of Prescott Way, which is in the Parkway neighborhood near Mack Road and Center Parkway.
At around 6:30 a.m. Friday , longtime area resident Jeffery Jones said he saw a man wandering the neighborhood looking drugged and confused.
“I said ‘What can I do for you,’ ” Jones said. “He said ‘I’m lost.”
The man walked away, but continued looking into homes, Jones said.
At around 8 a.m., officers arrived, questioned the man and then placed him in the back of a patrol car. As they were still trying to determine whether a crime had been committed, the man was not handcuffed, said department spokeswoman Traci Trapani. Jones said as they were taking his statement, the man started violently kicking at the windows.
“As soon as they opened the door he took off running,” Jones said.
The officers followed in their patrol cars, but the man eluded them by climbing into backyards, police said.
Police said the man jumped from one backyard to another and broke into at least one home. A woman, who was in her backyard when the man came over the fence with a meat cleaver and a butcher knife, screamed before running inside and locking the sliding glass door, Trapani said.
The man followed, breaking the glass, sending the fleeing woman out the front door where she called for help, Trapani said.
Later the man appeared from behind a parked car and confronted officers.
“ At that point he verbally challenged the officers and at that point officers fired their weapons,” Heinlein said. “He was struck and he is deceased.”
Heinlein said he the man took an “aggressive stance” towards the officers, but couldn’t say how close the suspect was to the officers or whether the man was charging at the officers.
It’s not yet known how many shots were fired. Representatives from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office will review the circumstances of the shooting.
The sprawling crime scene set the neighborhood abuzz as people nearby speculated on whether the use of lethal force was justified.
“Terrible” was the conclusion reached by area resident Wendell Smith, who said officers should have disarmed the man.
“If it were a gun its a different story,” Smith said.
Sandy Keller, who was in the area to drop off her kids at choir and drama rehearsal, leaned more toward trusting the cops’ instinct and training.
“I’m not going to make a judgment against a police officer,” Keller said, noting that a California Highway Patrol officer was badly injured in Sacramento Thursday by a motorist who allegedly ran over him on purpose.
“We don’t know the whole story,” Keller said. “Obviously the officers felt justified.”