SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For the first time, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn is speaking publicly about the attempted murder of one his officers in January. Body cam video provided by the department shows the intense moments.
It all started with a Sunday traffic stop. Police say they ran the plates and found that the car's registration was two years past due. The suspect then parked the car and started running away. Body camera video shows the dramatic chase on foot before the officer loses site of the suspect.
"Just a routine traffic stop turns to potentially a deadly situation within a matter of a minute or so," said Chief Hahn.
When the officer finally caught up to the suspect they got into a scuffle, causing the body cam to fall off. Despite this, the audio is still working and you can hear what sounds like threats coming from the suspect.
Chris Thomas ABC10: "There are those who might say it really seems convenient that the camera falls off right at the point of interaction. What do we take away from that, Chief Hahn?
Chief Hahn: "Well there's no perfect solution to anything, and so these body cameras just come off with a magnet. It's not terribly unusual for them to fall off when you're in a physical fight. The body cameras....we attach the officers with a magnet because we don't want it to be bolted to them because then they can get hung up or the suspect can grab it."
In this case, the officer fires his taser after allegedly hearing a clicking sound the officer discovers the suspect has a gun. This action causes the camera to fall off.
Chief Hahn: "We have body cameras on every one of our officers. Even in this case if it falls off. It's still recording everything. So we had the ability to hear the whole interaction. We didn't have that a year ago. There has a been a tremendous amount of change in the police department in just the short span of a year."
The "short span of a year" that Chief Hahn references, covers the time span in which Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento Police. The father of two was unarmed at the time of his death, but officers thought he had a gun. They only found a cellphone.
Clark's death sparked major protests and the district attorney is expected to make a decision about the fate of the officers involved any day now.
ABC10 had to ask if the Stephon Clark case had an impact on the outcome of the January case.
Consider: A Sacramento officer fighting for his life with an armed suspect who is biting him and determined to escape. Police released video and pictures of the weapon they say they recovered from the suspect. The officer walked away with a few cuts and bruises, and that suspect 33-year-old Artavious Coleman, is now behind bars.
Chief Hahn: "He said he was going to shoot the officer...pulled the trigger, and so the officer did an amazing job. That's what we want our officers to do. Stay proactive. Overcome resistance and everybody goes home."
Keep in mind, just this week state lawmakers introduced a new use of force bill. AB392, if passed, would authorize officers to use deadly force only when it is necessary to prevent eminent and serious bodily injury or death.
This comes as the Sacramento Police Department prepares to roll out a new use of force policy of their own.
Chief Hahn: "So for example we're looking at things like drones to search yards before inserting people or officers into that yard to search for somebody. We already have K-9 dogs, and now we're looking at robots...smaller robots that we can insert into yards."
Chief Hahn is also turning to community leaders like Mervin Brookins with Brother to Brother to help the department with community outreach.
Mervin Brookins: "We have a police chief that's willing to listen to solutions outside the box."
Brookins actually spent time in jail and had more than a few run-ins with police. Now, instead of posing for mugshots, he's taking snapshots with the police chief representing his Brother-to-Brother organization.
Mervin Brookins: "Brother-to-Brother has been out at the police academy to give them a different perspective on the different individuals they are going to serve. Brother-to-Brother has hosted the new recruits before they hit the streets to say hey here is our community."
From community partnerships designed to expose officers to communities they might not otherwise interact with, to arming officers with new technology geared at promoting more accountability, Chief Hahn insists he's making changes that are reducing fatal interactions.
Chief Hahn: "We want officers to perform their duties in the safest way possible not only for the officer but also for the suspect. And so we release video faster than we ever have before. And we created a research and development division that is going to research the latest greatest ways to do things whether they be training or equipment. There are several things that we have implemented after the shooting that I think will pay dividends for years to come."
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