Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Defends Decision to Shoot Unarmed Teen

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CARMICHAEL -- The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department is defending one of their own after a deputy fatally shot an unarmed 17-year-old.

The boy had driven away from deputies, refusing to pull over and ultimately became cornered on Horton Lane -- a dead-end street.

Late Saturday, Tammie Vitto, who lives at the end of that street, first noticed the sounds in the distance.

"I heard sirens getting closer and closer, and I heard a helicopter, so my bedroom faces the front of the house, and I thought, 'man they're getting pretty close,'" Vitto told FOX40.

When she saw the flashing blue and red lights and a strange car in her driveway, she decided to look outside her front door.

"Officer was yelling at him to get out of the car, show them his hands, and he yelled it a couple of times and sort of looked at me and yelled at me to get back in the house," Vitto said.

The Sacramento Sheriff's Department said it started chasing the driver at El Camino and Walnut when deputies noticed the car driving erratically, and the driver failed to pull over.

"The pursuit lasted about four to five minutes, many times through residential neighborhoods sometimes going 60 miles an hour, putting a lot of people in jeopardy," Sgt. Tony Turnbull said.

In front of Vitto's house, Turnbull said deputies were faced with a difficult choice.

"The suspect put the car into reverse and began revving the engines, and the car started going into reverse, and we had deputies behind the car. One of our deputies decided to discharge his firearm at the driver," Turnbull said.

The driver, later identified as 17-year-old Sergey Makarenko did not survive. According to Turnbull, the deputy had few other options as they're not trained to shoot to disable a vehicle.

"We're not trained to disable vehicles, if you shoot out the tires, it doesn't mean the car stops. You've still got four wheels," Turnbull said.

"I got back in my house, shut the door and hear 'pop, pop, pop, pop.' That was about all I heard, and then it was just chaotic," Vitto said.

A family member told FOX40, Makarenko had just purchased the car and his registration hadn't gone through. They believe he may have feared having his driver's license suspended.

According to the DMV, Makarenko had no driver's license, although he did start the application.

"Expired registration is a fix it ticket, driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor," Turnbull said.

Meanwhile Vitto said she sympathizes with Makarenko's family.

"I have two sons, and I thought what if something like that had happened to one of my children, and just the fact that he was a young kid and he made a stupid decision," Vitto told FOX40.

Family told FOX40 Makarenko had no violent past, and relatives feel officers should have found an alternative solution.

Meanwhile Turnbull said the sheriff's department is awaiting a toxicology report to see if the teen was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.