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Vigil held for machete-wielding man killed by Sacramento deputy

Family members said Jaime Naranjo, 55, was experiencing a mental health crisis when he advanced toward a Sacramento County deputy with a machete.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Community members held a vigil Thursday night to remember the 55-year-old South Sacramento man shot in front of his home after “advancing” toward a Sacramento Sheriff’s deputy following a 911 call by his wife. She told authorities the man was suicidal, Sacramento Sheriff’s officials said.

Neighbors, family, and community members gathered for an emotional remembrance for Jaime Naranjo outside his South Sacramento home along Enrico Boulevard where he was shot Wednesday. More than 40 people attended the vigil where dozens of candles were lit and family laid out photos of the man’s life.

“Celebrating and mourning the life of my wonderful father,” said his daughter, Shavon Acosta Naranjo.

Acosta Naranjo describes a doting father who loved to fish and always pushed her to do her best. She says her father was experiencing a mental health crisis when a deputy arrived at her parent's home. 

However, Sacramento Sheriff’s officials say the woman told dispatchers her husband did not have a mental health condition.

Still, dispatchers told responding deputies the call was related to a 5150, welfare code for a person in crisis, which can allow law enforcement to hold a person involuntarily for 72 hours to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

“I haven’t slept,” Acosta Naranjo said. “I’d sleep if my dad was here, but we called for help and my dad got taken from us.”

Officials with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office say Jaime Naranjo was wielding a 24-inch machete near his porch when the first responder arrived and the man’s wife was standing in the front yard.

“The suicidal subject advanced towards the deputy and the subject’s wife," according to the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office. “The deputy pushed the wife out of the path of the advancing subject to remove her from immediate harm and attempted to retreat while commanding the subject to drop the raised machete.”

The incident has re-ignited previous calls by activists in Sacramento County who say law enforcement officers are not the appropriate officials to respond to a mental health crisis. Berry Accius with Voice of the Youth led the vigil with the family.

“The only person he was a danger to was himself,” Accius said.

According to county documents, Sacramento County has a mobile crisis support team in partnership with law enforcement and the Hope Cooperative, funded by the Division of Behavioral Health Services through proposition 23. However, the team would not have started their day until about 15 minutes after the deputy had fired shots at about 8:45 a.m.

Attorney Stewart Katz is an expert in law enforcement's use-of-force in the Sacramento area. He reviewed police audio from Broadcastify and the statements released by the sheriff’s office in the wake of the shooting. He says he’s concerned about how quickly the incident took a turn for the worse.

“There are so many things present here that mitigate the need for a terrible outcome,” Katz said.

The shooting remains under investigation. The deputy was wearing a body camera and footage is expected to be released in the coming weeks. Katz said the footage will be vital to helping the public understand more about what happened.

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