SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP/CBS13) — The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office has released the investigative file on the 2017 shooting of an unarmed black man that concluded the killing was justified, contradicting a county finding that excessive force was used.
Deputies fired 28 shots at Mikel McIntyre as he ran from them along U.S. Route 50 in Rancho Cordova during rush hour after hurling rocks at deputies, injuring one. Sheriff Scott Jones released 1,193 documents from its internal affairs investigation along with photos and videos after the Sacramento Bee filed a lawsuit and threatened a second one, the newspaper said Thursday.
The file was released in the midst of public outcry over the death of another unarmed black man in police custody on Monday in Minneapolis. Video showed George Floyd gasping for help as a white policeman pinned him to the street by the neck.
The internal affairs report noted that McIntyre, 32, was having a mental health crisis on May 8, 2017. Deputies were called after McIntyre reportedly had choked his mother, Brigett, and tried to pull her out of a car after they had gone shopping.
While trying to run from deputies in Rancho Cordova, McIntyre threw rocks at them, hitting one deputy in the head and causing an injury that required stitches.
He was struck by seven bullets, six of them in his back.
The file contains interviews with deputies who said they felt their lives were threatened by McIntyre.
Deputy Ken Becker said McIntyre threw a rock at his head.
"I thought he was trying to kill me," Becker said, adding that he fired at the fleeing McIntyre because he feared more violence and felt "this isn't going to stop unless he gets stopped."
Witnesses described the suspect as angry and aggressive and described him throwing a rock the size of a football that struck a deputy, who was bloody and disoriented.
The internal affairs investigation and the Sacramento County district attorney's office concluded that the shooting was justified.
John Burris, the attorney for McIntyre's family, thinks otherwise.
"It looks like this is revenge. This guy hit an officer with a rock and we are going to get him, he is going to pay," said Burris. "Although he had thrown a rock and hit an officer, there is no doubt that he had done that, but at the time chased him down and shot him he was not doing that."
Burris told CBS13 McIntyre's actions should have alerted deputies something was wrong.
"They should have been on alert that this is a person who has problems and that he was not working in the same normal reactive way. There was no consideration to that," Burris said.
McIntyre's mother, Brigett McIntyre, has still not seen the video according to Burris.
"It's been traumatizing for her for the last three years. she certainly does not want to see where her son was shot and killed," he said. "That video should have been shown a long time ago and people in the public could make up their own minds."
However, in August 2018 the county's then-Inspector General, former Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel, found the number of rounds fired was "excessive, unnecessary" and put citizens at risk.
Protests targeted the county's leadership after the sheriff retaliated against the then-inspector general by locking him out of agency offices and the jail.
The county later settled a wrongful death lawsuit over the shooting for $1.7 million without acknowledging wrongdoing.
The Bee sued the county after sheriff's officials refused to release public records, arguing that the department was violating a new state law requiring law enforcement agencies to release records involving deputy misconduct and use of force that leads to serious injury or death.
McIntyre's death was one of numerous slayings of minority men by police nationwide that triggered a broad debate and several California laws. They included the 2018 killing of Stephon Clark by Sacramento city police in his grandparents' backyard.
Clark, 22, had run from officers who were investigating reports of a car burglar. Police said they believed Clark was carrying a firearm. But investigators concluded he only had a cellphone.
The city later agreed to pay $2.4 million to Clark's two sons in a wrongful death lawsuit.
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