Placer DA: Officer shooting of man justified

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The fatal shooting of a man by Rocklin and Lincoln police on Jan. 1 was determined to be justifiable after a Placer County District Attorney’s Office independent review. The conclusion was reached in the death of Gregory Gifford, 54, who was shot after disregarding commands by officers to drop what appeared to be a rifle as he exited his stopped vehicle in Lincoln. It was later discovered that Gifford had been holding a pellet rifle. The DA’s determination was contained in a letter where Assistant District Attorney Scott Owens wrote that Gifford had committed two armed robberies — one in Sacramento and the other in Rocklin — and that at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, he led officers on a short vehicle pursuit that began near Twelve Bridges and Colonnade drives in Lincoln and ended at Fairway Valley Lane. Gifford left a suicide note for his family and, after being shot, was found with another note in his pocket in which he apologized for leaving the officers with “no choice,” Owens said. “In that note, Gifford apologized for the horrible thing he was doing, and he had written that the officers ‘had no choice,’” Owens wrote in his letter to the law enforcement agencies. Gifford’s wife told investigators that her husband was injured on duty as a firefighter with the Sacramento County Fire District, now a part of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, and that the injuries forced him into retirement. According to the wife, Gifford “had been suffering from depression for a substantial period of time,” Owens wrote. Noah Brommeland, an investigator for the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, said the probes into officer-related shootings “are complex and have to be thorough.” “It was the goal of the committee to develop a protocol that assured the public that such incidents are investigated fully and independently,” Brommeland said. Owens indicated that the law enforcement officers who fired on Gifford had been placed in a difficult position. “The states of mind of the responding officers to this event demonstrate that the officers took reasonable and necessary action,” Owens said. “They believed that their lives, and the lives of the public, were in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury.” ~ Staff Report