Cops Fatally Shooting Man with Knife and Pellet Gun
The West Sacramento Police Department on Thursday released video of officers fatally shooting a man last month who was reportedly holding a knife and a gun as he charged at one officer in a busy intersection.
Investigators later determined A. J. L. was holding a pellet gun that police said he was pointing at the officer as charged toward him on Feb. 25, according to the edited video the department released. Medics attempted life-saving measures, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The video includes audio clips of a 911 call and footage from the body cameras worn by officers who are identified as “Officer 1” and “Officer 2” in the video. Police Chief Rob Strange said the officers have been authorized to return to duty. The officers’ names have not been released, and department said their names will be released “pursuant to the law and department policy,” according to the video.
“Pursuant to our policy and standard practice, I have assessed the information gathered through these investigative efforts and have determined that the involved officers will be authorized to return to duty,” Strange said in a Police Department news release.
“These officers continue to cooperate with all investigative efforts and other work readiness processes, while they also engage with supportive resources to enable a healthy return to their work serving the residents of West Sacramento.”
The video also includes dashboard camera video, along with security camera video from nearby gas station and a store, where he bought a knife that he used to stab himself several minutes later before the police encounter, according to police.
The incident began about 3:45 p.m., when a 911 caller reported seeing a who had just stabbed himself in the neck while in the Walmart parking lot, not far from where the police shooting later occurred. The man who stabbed himself was later identified as A.J.L, 24, of West Sacramento.
The 911 caller told a dispatcher that he didn’t hear L. say anything before he stabbed himself. The caller said he saw L. get out of his car and approach a store employee before he returned to his car in the Walmart parking lot.
“He stabbed himself in the throat,” the 911 caller told the dispatcher. “I got in my car and looked back, and he stabbed himself in the throat, sir.”
L. drove away in his car despite the significant self-inflicted stab wound to his neck, the 911 caller told the dispatcher. The officers arrived as the caller was still speaking to the dispatcher. The officers began to search for L’s car.
Police say the 911 caller gave the dispatcher “invaluable information” and L’s car was found in the left turn lane of Riverpoint Court, seemingly preparing to turn left into Reed Avenue.
Officer 1 was the first to spot L’s car. The video shows the officer parked his patrol car in the next lane to the right, behind L’s car. Officer 2 arrived seconds later and could see L. reaching around in his car, police said.
When Officer 1 got out of his patrol car, L. got out of his car, according to police. The video then shows still images of L. after her got out of his car. The images have drawn circles indicating where police say he was holding a knife in one hand and pointing the pellet gun at the officer with the other.
Before L. charged at the officer, the video shows Officer 1 get out of his patrol car and direct a driver in another vehicle to “back up.” That vehicle was directly behind L’s car.
Seconds later, the video shows L. charging at Officer 1, who backs away from L. as several shots are heard. The officer appeared to retreat several feet before several more gunshots are heard, the video shows.
Then, Officer 1 is heard in the video radioing dispatchers, “Shots fired. Shots fired. Officers are code-four. Suspect is down. Code-three medical.” The officer told dispatchers that the officers at the scene were OK and requested at an ambulance immediately.
Body camera video from Officer 1 then shows L. down on the street. It appeared he was face down at that moment. One officer is then are heard telling L. “Show me your hands!” The other officer told L. three times, “Drop the gun!”
Police said Officer 1 was the first to fire his gun at L, who fell down before getting up and charging at that officer again. Video from Officer 2’s body camera and the gas station security camera shows L. hit the ground before running toward the officer a second time.
Officer 2 initially fired a Taser at L. before he ran at the other officer a second time, police said. The officer then fired his gun at L. The officer is then heard in the video ordering other drivers and medics in an ambulance to back away. The ambulance was allowed to approach again once the officers determined L. was no longer a threat, according to police.
Police said the department continued to cooperate with the Woodland Police Department, which is conducting an independent investigation of the shooting, according to the news release. At the same time, West Sacramento police is conducting its own internal investigation of the fatal shooting and a review of department policies.
“Several months from now, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office will complete its assessment of this officer-involved shooting and issue its findings,” police said in the news release.