Sacto 9-1-1
August 15, 2011
Man shot by Elk Grove police sues city

By Denny Walsh
dwalsh@sacbee.com

An Elk Grove man sued that city this morning over being shot by one of its police officers after he had been searched and while he was lying handcuffed on the back seat of a police cruiser.

It is undisputed that John Hesselbein was shot by Officer Paul Beckham in the early hours of Jan. 30. The round from Beckham's assault rifle ripped through Hesselbein's left cheek.

Beckham and other officers later said in police interviews that Hesselbein was yelling he had a gun and appeared to be attempting to reach into the back of his waistband.

A second search following the shooting failed to turn up a weapon.

The officers were at Hesselbein's home on Callippe Way in response to a domestic violence report by his wife.

Hesselbein, 33, later pleaded no-contest to misdemeanor battery on his wife and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Today's federal court complaint, filed on his behalf by attorney Stewart Katz, alleges that the "excessive and deadly force" resulted in "pain and suffering and scarring, loss of feeling/nerve damage to his face, and post-traumatic stress disorder."

In addition to the city of Elk Grove, the civil rights suit names as defendants Beckham, Police Chief Robert Lehner, and Sgt. Michael Iannone, supervisor of the scene at Hesselbein's home when the shooting occurred.

The suit seeks unspecified amounts of compensatory damages from all the defendants and punitive damages from the three individual defendants.

The Sacramento County district attorney's office recently issued a report exonerating Beckham of any wrongdoing.

Hesselbein's suit says the report is part of a cover up designed to protect Beckham from criminal prosecution and insulate the defendants from civil liability.

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