SACRAMENTO — An interaction between a deputy and a man escalated within seconds, according to released footage of the incident.
The deputy went from jotting down notes to pulling out a gun and opening fire.
Police identified the man as 55-year-old Maurice Holley.
Audio of the 911 call has also been released.
The call was placed to report a man passed out in front of their property, according to the audio.
The caller says the man has had police called on him before because he’s been seen carrying a machete, caught with guns in his car and that now he’s in front of their house.
A single Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy responded to the neighborhood where he found Holley lying in a ditch alongside Bennett Road.
Dashcam video shows the deputy writing down notes and asking Holley for identification.
Holley is seen in the video sitting up. He then begins to crawl toward a fence as the deputy continues to issue verbal commands.
The interaction escalates when Holley is seen reaching for his waistband as the deputy continues to issue commands.
According to investigators, the deputy says he thought it was a handgun.
The deputy fired nine shots at Holley, and he died at the scene.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Sgt. Tess Deterding says deputies have to make split-second decisions every day, and in this case, the deputy feared he would be shot by the suspect.
“I mean we’re talking fractions of a second from I’m taking notes on a note pad to my life is in danger,” Sgt. Deterding said.
The deputy later learned that what he thought was a handgun was really an airsoft gun.
Sacramento for Black Lives and other people wonder if the death could have been prevented.
“Seeing how quickly that dynamic changed and seeing that suspect go for his waistband, I don’t think there’s any standard or law that would change that deputy’s ability to defend his life at that time,” Sgt. Deterding said.
A new law taking effect January, called AB 392, changes the threshold of when to use deadly force from reasonable to necessary.
Attorney Mark Reichel says because the suspect reached for his waistband, he believes the deputy’s decision was justified.
“The officer believes there’s a gun, they’re pointing a gun at them, and then to go for it anyway doesn’t really make much sense. That causes the officer to probably be within their rights,” Reichel said.
The problem is why the officer continued to shoot, Reichel says.
“I would certainly like this to never happen again when you shoot someone nine times when two is enough,” Reichel said.
Following the shooting, deputies learned that the suspect had two outstanding misdemeanor warrants for drug offenses across four different states including California.
The case is now under review by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.