Updated Friday, September 7, at 1:46 p.m.
Two Sacramento police officers fatally shot a man in the backyard of a downtown Sacramento home early Thursday morning after receiving a call about an individual wearing a mask and holding a gun.
Officers discovered the man, identified by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office as 19-year-old Darell Richards, hiding under a home’s backyard stairwell on First Avenue near 20th Street in Curtis Park just after 3 a.m. Police say they observed a gun in the man’s hand and ordered him to drop it, but the man pointed it at the officers, who fired and fatally shot him.
Police say investigators recovered a pellet gun at the scene, which appears to be a replica of a handgun.
Police spokesperson Sgt. Vance Chandler says the incident spanned several hours and the department followed its new foot pursuit policy, as officers did not take chase.
The incident began late Wednesday night near Broadway and 16th Street. Law enforcement received a 911 call about a masked man holding a gun who “was walking down Broadway and had pointed the gun at numerous people,” according to a police report.
Chandler says officers eventually made contact with Richards, who is black and Hmong, according to the coroner’s office. Richards allegedly fled. "Our officers did not give foot chase,” he said. Instead, he says they “kept a visual contact of the suspect” as he ran.
As Richards traveled through a residential neighborhood, “one of the patrol officers observed the suspect and observed him armed with a firearm,” Chandler said.
He says although the officers knew Richards was allegedly armed, he did not pose a significant threat to the community.
"The officers established a perimeter in the area to contain the suspect and the decisions by officers and supervisors on scene was to call the SWAT team," Chandler explained. A California Highway Patrol aircraft assisted in locating Richards.
Chandler says it took three hours from the time SWAT officers were called until police entered a backyard near Broadway and 21st Street, on the border of Land Park and Curtis Park. A K-9 unit was also deployed.
In the backyard, the officers reported an immediate threat and opened fire, according to Chandler. The man, who police have yet to identify, died at the scene.
Police say the two officers who shot the man have 17 and 11 years of experience with the department. They were placed on administrative leave, which is policy.
On Friday, the Sacramento Black Lives Matter chapter announced it would be holding a rally and vigil near where Richards was killed.
Founder Tanya Faison questioned whether police abided its non-pursuit policy during the incident.
“We do not believe their narrative,” Faison wrote. “There are tons of holes in their story, and we are going to make sure the community knows the truth.”
The department says law-enforcement video and audio from the incident will be released within 30 days, as per the city’s use-of-force policy. CapRadio has filed a California Public Records Act to obtain any video and audio records.
After the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark this past March, the Sacramento Police Department made a change to its pursuit policy, which it announced last month. Now, officers are not required to chase a suspect and instead are instructed to evaluate whether to continue pursuit.
Editor’s note: We’ve changed the wording of this story’s headline to clarify the details of the incident.
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