Sacto 9-1-1
August 1, 2011
DA: Elk Grove police officer justified in shooting handcuffed suspect

An Elk Grove police officer acted lawfully in January when he fired his AR-15 rifle at a handcuffed suspect, seated in the back of a patrol car, who officers thought may still have been armed, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully.

No weapon was found on then-32-year-old John Hesselbein when officers searched him for the second time after the shooting.

In her 11-page letter to police Chief Robert Lehner absolving the officer of any criminal liability, Scully argued that the officer had reason to believe Hesselbein was dangerous and that the officer "had the right to act in self-defense and in defense of his fellow officers."

Hesselbein was shot Jan. 30 after his wife called police to report he was drunk and abusive. His cheek was grazed by the rifle round.

Later, Hesselbein pleaded no contest to battery on a spouse in connection with the incident.

It is one of the final officer-involved shootings that Scully's office will review. After grappling with a $6.9 million budget shortfall - and the layoffs of 31 prosecutors - Scully disbanded the unit assigned to such investigate criminal liability in such shootings.

For more information, read tomorrow's Bee.

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