Posted: 3/15/2001 3:35:37 AM EDT
[b]Gun confusion in shooting? Similarities of firearm, stun gun cited.[/b]
A Sacramento police officer could have mistaken his handgun for the nonlethal stun gun he said he thought he was using Saturday when he shot and wounded a 38-year-old university instructor, investigators and some fellow officers said Tuesday.
<-rest of story->
I would suggest that the dept switches to DAO P226's as there would be no question as to whether he cocked the hammer or not.
You Think that's bad, How about they KILL you because you are holding a Cellphone.
Shooting officers named
By Ralph Montaño
Bee Staff Writer
(Published March 7, 2001)
The Sacramento Police Department released Tuesday the names of two police officers involved in a controversial shooting that killed a man four weeks ago.
The information was made public for the first time after several formal and informal requests for the names by The Bee during the 26 days since the death of Donald "D.J." Venerable Jr., 33.
On Feb. 9, Officers Joseph Ellis and Casey Dionne responded to a domestic violence call in south Sacramento and, according to police, shot Venerable after he approached them with a dark object in his hand that turned out to be a cellphone, according to police.
Ellis opened fire with his pistol while Dionne fired a nonlethal stun gun, police said. Venerable died after being taken to UC Davis Medical Center.
The department had refused to release the officers' names citing the ongoing investigations. The police released the names Tuesday without comment.
But Kent Pollock, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, said identifying officers involved in shootings is in the best interest of the public.
"Departments try to withhold this information thinking it protects the officers, but it also prevents public scrutiny," Pollock said.
A lack of scrutiny creates the "perception of a cover-up," he added.
The Bee's request was made under the California Public Records Act. A similar request was upheld by a California Court of Appeals in 1997.
The case involved a 1995 firefight involving five Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies in which a man was killed.
The Santa Barbara News-Press newspaper sued for the names of the deputies and lost at the trial court level. The decision was overturned in appeal.
"The perceived harm to deputies from revelation of their names as having fired their weapons in the line of duty resulting in a death does not outweigh the public interest served in disclosure of their names," the court ruled.
"Law enforcement officers carry upon their shoulders the cloak of authority to enforce the laws of the state," the ruling said. "In order to maintain trust in its police department, the public must be kept fully informed of the activities of its peace officers."
The Venerable shooting also is the subject of five formal investigations: the Sacramento Police Department's internal affairs and homicide officers, the Office of Police Accountability, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office and the FBI.
The officers' attorney, Kasey Clark, said he had no comment while the investigations are ongoing. The Police Department said last week that Ellis and Dionne returned to patrol duties within a week of the shooting. Ellis has since moved to an administrative duty because of the stress and pressure created by the media, police said.
The shooting has brought an intense reaction from members of the African American community and prompted a sixth, informal investigation by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Mayor Heather Fargo and City Council members Bonnie Pannell and Lauren Hammond have scheduled a meeting tonight with two dozen members of the minority community to discuss the issue.
Could have been one of those Cell Phone Guns.
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