Death on Del Paso Boulevard: Sacramento police shoot man armed with knife

Fatal encounter occurs on the heels of other high-profile encounters between police and black men

An unidentified black man became the fifth person in Sacramento County this year to die from a cop’s gun on Monday, after an altercation on Del Paso Boulevard in north Sacramento at about 9:30 a.m.

The July 11 shooting by two officers came amid another inflection point in the ongoing national debate about race and justice, and followed a week in which the public watched police officers kill two black fathers, and the next day witnessed a shooter ambushing Dallas police officers.

Much remained under investigation on Tuesday, a day after the shooting.

Witnesses who called police say the man was acting erratically in the area of Lochbrae Road, tossing a knife into the air while shouting obscenities. After throwing the knife for a few moments, residents of the Woodlake neighborhood say they saw the man soil himself and then brandish a handgun—though no gun was recovered, said Francine Tournour, the city’s independent public safety monitor.

“He wanted the police to come,” said Melissa Gudis, one of the residents who witnessed the shooting.

The man then left Lochbrae Road, wandering onto Del Paso Boulevard and spending some time in the SN&R lobby, where, according to witnesses, he acted strangely before heading out onto the street. There, Sacramento police officers followed him in their vehicles while using megaphones to warn residents and order his surrender.

According to witnesses, he then shouted at the officers, and threw a metal bottle at one of their vehicles. He also took a fighting stance, police say, or what Tournour described as “little karate stands.” According to police, two additional officers arrived on scene and chased the subject near the 1300 block of Del Paso Boulevard , cornering him near the Stoney Inn bar, which is diagonally across the street from a probation check-in office. Armed with a knife, the subject turned back toward them, police say. The two officers opened fire, striking the man multiple times. He later died at a hospital.

One of the officers involved in the shooting suffered minor injuries in a fall.

Neither of the officers were equipped with body cameras. Tournour said officers’ in-car cameras recorded scenes leading up to the shooting, but not the actual shooting itself. Tournour said the recordings depict officers giving the man numerous verbal commands to drop the knife and telling bystanders along the boulevard to go back into their homes or businesses. Tournour said there might be other footage to review, and that additional interviews must be completed.

“There’s still a lot that has to be looked at,” she said. “Right now, it’s still very preliminary.”

The boulevard remained cordoned off for several hours following the shooting. A southbound Blue Line train containing approximately 40 passengers sat stopped at Del Paso Boulevard and Edgewater Road, near the scene, for hours as part of the investigation. According to the Sacramento Regional Transit District, police interviewed the passengers.

The North Sacramento Community Coalition, an alliance of community and faith leaders, is calling for a full investigation and had scheduled a prayer meeting for Tuesday evening at the Allen Chapel AME Church.

“Our prayers go out the loved ones of the deceased and all of those who have been affected,” Rev. Pat Rivers of For His Glory Baptist Church said in a statement. “This is not ‘too close’ to home; it is ‘home.'”

Questions have already arisen about why police didn’t first attempt to deploy nonlethal means, like a Taser. Tournour said the quickness of the situation, officer protocol and the fact that the man wore baggy clothes could have all been factors. She is more concerned about what can be done to prevent incidents like this in the future.

“We have a community here that’s in need of social services, that’s beyond what the police are equipped to handle,” she said. “But when people need help, they call the cops.

“They’re not going to bring a knife to a knife fight.”