By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO – The tab for Sacramento County taxpayers for the actions of the Sheriff’s Dept. continues to climb – Thursday the county disclosed that it has agreed to pay $1.7 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit as a result of the killing of Mikel McIntyre in 2017.
That figure can increase as county private counsel and other lawyers submit their bills. Deputies don’t pay the bills; taxpayers do.
But McIntyre’s shooting death led to a string of events – some of which have increased transparency of law enforcement around the state.
For instance, Black Lives Matter Sacramento has spent much of the last three years marching through the streets of Sacramento, blocking traffic, freeways and NBA basketball games – the message has been to inform residents of the terrible human toll Sacramento area law enforcement has taken on the community.
Now, the toll is hitting home with millions of tax dollars used to settle lawsuits from McIntyre to Stephon Clark ($2.4 million). And others in between. And others in the near future.
A 32-year-old Black man in May of 2017, McIntyre had several mental breaks during the day, and was shot and killed by deputies near Highway 50. He was accused of throwing big river rocks at deputies. One allegedly hit a deputy, and another a K-9.
Although he was running away, deputies blasted 28 rounds his way, hitting him seven times, six in the back, according to the lawsuit.
Civil rights attorney John Burris, representing McIntyre’s son and mother, told news media Thursday that while the mentally impaired, disabled and unarmed McIntyre threw rocks at deputies, his killing was “done with vengeance” because he was running away and “did not pose a danger. It’s a pretty outrageous situation.”
Because of the McIntyre killing, Black Lives Matter Sacramento founder Tanya Faison pressed Sheriff Scott Jones with street demonstrations, news conferences and social media – Jones responded by attacking local activists on social media and claiming his deputies did nothing wrong. Later, he blocked Faison from his social media – Faison sued.
“This attempt to silence us shows how little the sheriff values Black lives and the movement to combat injustice and inequality,” Faison said in a statement released at the time by the ACLU. “It is our role to call public attention to state violence and racist policing whether the sheriff likes it or not.”
Jones and his deputies – who, unlike city of Sacramento police, do not wear body cameras – also took heat from the county’s inspector general, Rick Braziel, at the time, who concluded more than a year later that deputies did use “unnecessary, excessive” force that actually put freeway vehicles at risk.
That got Braziel, a former Sacramento police chief, effectively fired. Jones locked Braziel out of his office. The office of IG was vacant until just this week. But the IG now has more power and support of elected officials who oversee the sheriff’s annual budget.
And although Jones has yet to release the video of the McIntyre incident, under new legislation last year such videos must now be released.