The Sacramento County DA’s Office announced on Friday that local police are cleared in the shooting death of Dazion Flenaugh. They say the 40-year-old rushed officers with two knives.
“By law, officers are allowed to use deadly force when they reasonably believe they are faced with imminent danger,” they said in a press release. “Based on a thorough review of the evidence, Flenaugh posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the three officers, and they were justified in shooting Flenaugh to defend themselves and each other.”
Officials say Flenaugh matched the description of a man peeking into homes in Sacramento on April 8. Police confronted him, and put him in the back of a cruiser without handcuffing him. They told him they were just bringing him home, but he started getting visibly disturbed, as seen in video provided to local outlets like The Sacramento Bee. An official opened the door to check on him, and that’s when he escaped.
“After jumping over fences and escaping through backyards, Flenaugh stole a large pick axe from one yard and used it to smash another residence’s front door window,” the DA’s office said. “He also broke the back door glass. Flenaugh then went to an occupied home, which he forcibly entered after threatening to harm the resident with the pick axe and knife he was holding. She retreated from her home and contacted a neighbor for help. After discarding the pick axe and now holding two knives, Flenaugh confronted and threatened the neighbor, then fled.”
Video released to local news outlets does show Flenaugh wailing on a door using a pickaxe.
Mark Harris, an attorney for Flenaugh’s family, told Fox40 that the footage shows neither the man charging officers nor the shooting itself. He also criticizes one piece of audio that did make it to the official record: previous to the fatal confrontation, an officer warning one resident about Flenaugh said, “There’s some nut, tweak just freaking out. Well, if you see him, just hit him with a baseball bat a couple of times.”
“Rather than take the least oppressive means to deescalate a situation, law enforcement chose to do something quite the opposite,” Harris said.
“We don’t condone that type of language,” Police spokesman Sgt. Bryce Heinlein told WWLP. “We want to treat people professionally, courteously, and that’s the goal.”
The DA’s office issued a six-page memo about the shooting on Wednesday. You can read it here.
[Screengrab via Sacramento County]