WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — West Sacramento’s mayor released a video statement Wednesday following the police shooting death of a longtime community member, former enforcement officer and volunteer for the West Sacramento Police Department.
Robert Coleman was shot near West Capitol Avenue early Saturday morning after calls about a man armed with a gun in the neighborhood.
Police say the 88-year-old Black man was seen sitting in a vehicle behind police units. As an officer tried to contact him, West Sacramento police say he left the vehicle armed with a handgun.
A witness later told FOX40 she saw officers run toward the car, pulling Coleman out before trying to perform CPR.
Four officers shot at Coleman. Paramedics later declared him dead at the scene.
The West Sacramento Police Department identified Coleman as a former code enforcement officer, parking enforcement officer and a volunteer in policing. The mayor said he retired from the police department 16 years ago.
In Wednesday’s video, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said he knew Coleman, whom he calls Bob, and his wife.
“And as a young, freshly-minted, new city councilman, I used to gossip with them at spaghetti feeds, roll up my sleeves with them at volunteer neighborhood cleanups or just grab a snack and laugh at the senior center,” the mayor says.
He goes on to call Coleman an “exemplar” and a “bridge between generations, between neighborhoods.”
Cabaldon says he spoke with the 88-year-old’s family over the weekend, who told him they wished for the community to know of Coleman’s struggles with mental illness, as well as the family’s continued attempts to get him help.
“In recent years, Bob struggled with mental illness,” the mayor says. “He contemplated suicide and through it all, he was stubbornly independent.”
In July, the mayor says the city council adopted a reorganization of the police department and a new division focused on crisis intervention that would send in specialists in place of armed officers.
West Sacramento has started the hiring process for that community outreach team, which has already met pushback from activists who would rather see the police department defunded. The police union has said they want the city instead to hire more sworn officers.
Cabaldon says crisis intervention specialists “wouldn’t have been enough this past Saturday morning, though, when Bob was armed with a gun.”
Black Lives Matter Sacramento has spoken out about the deadly shooting, creating a list of actions they wish to see taken by the West Sacramento Police Department. That list includes the firing of the officers who shot and killed Coleman.
In his video, Mayor Cabaldon says Coleman would not have wanted to see division in the community.
“There will be due process and transparency and I assure you there will be justice,” Cabaldon says.
The Davis Police Department has launched an independent investigation into the shooting and footage of the incident will be released after it is viewed by Coleman’s family.
If you or someone you know needs help or is in suicidal crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week toll free.