I am a retired law enforcement officer and former Sacramento sheriff’s captain with 40 years of service. I do not know Sheriff Scott Jones well. Our careers took us down different paths.
Now only a citizen of this county, I rely on him and his department for my family’s safety and quality of life. I am disturbed by the controversy generated by Inspector General Rick Braziel’s report on the Mikel McIntyre shooting and the media’s portrayal of the deputies involved as indifferent to human life and reckless.
During my career I have been the victim of deadly force, used deadly force, reviewed the use of deadly force by deputies and made determinations on their actions. I do not rubber stamp every use of deadly force by law enforcement officers, but they do get it right most of the time. They are trained for it, but quite frankly, they dread it. I know I did.
Braziel’s report upset me as a citizen and law enforcement professional. He admits the premise of his analysis is hindsight. Then he comes to a vague conclusion that “some” shots were excessive. Based on the description he offered of what actually happened and what the deputies faced, I was left to wonder which specific shot fired could possibly be construed as unnecessary. Braziel seemingly ignores the provisions in well-established law and department policy that authorizes the use of deadly force to capture a fleeing violent felon.
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McIntyre’s death is devastating for his family, and even more tragic if his actions were the result of mental illness. However, all the deputies could do was to react to his actions, and these were serious actions. One was badly injured and they could have been killed.
The main problem with Braziel’s de-escalation model is that it requires the deputies to consider valuing the life of the person putting the community at risk over the rest of the community. That can never happen in a civilized society.
These deputies were faced with the most difficult situation they may ever face in their careers. They put the community first and refused to allow McIntyre to control the outcome through his violent rampage and flight. They chose the most effective means at their disposal, deadly force, to end the rampage. I personally appreciate what they did and thank them for their service.
I commend Sheriff Jones for his bold move to end Braziel’s oversight of the sheriff’s department. He is putting the community and his deputies first by ending Braziel’s use of tragic events as a laboratory to concoct unrealistic and dangerous law enforcement techniques. I certainly don’t want deputies protecting my family to hesitate during the next deadly threat to the community for fear of unfair and incompetent public review.
It is clear from the sheriff’s letter he wants credible independent oversight of his department. I encourage the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to make that happen. It is what we deserve as citizens of this county.