Video released of pursuit, shootout that killed Calif. deputy, K-9

The video shows deputies had surrounded a vehicle when the suspect opened fire at close range


By Michael McGough
The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday released disturbing video and new details about last month's fatal shooting of Deputy Adam Gibson.

Sheriff's officials say the suspect, identified by the coroner as Robert Calderon, fired nine shots at deputies at point-blank range after crashing an SUV in a Cal Expo parking lot. Deputies reportedly pursued Calderon after he fled a parole stop in Sacramento County.

Deputy Adam Gibson.
Deputy Adam Gibson. (Sacramento County Sheriff's Office)

The suspect opened fire, fatally injuring Gibson, who died at a hospital. He also shot and killed 5-year-old K-9 Riley and seriously wounded a 43-year-old deputy, sheriff's officials said. The wounded deputy is recovering.

Deputies returned a barrage of gunfire, killing Calderon.

The Sheriff's Office posted a 12-minute video from the incident narrated by department spokesman Sgt. Rodney Grassmann, including dash camera and helicopter footage from the pursuit and shootout.

The video redacts visuals of the fatal shooting of Gibson, but includes audio of dozens of gunshots being fired in quick succession, and also shows dramatic scenes from the chase that led up to the shootout.

The incident began shortly after 10 p.m. on Jan. 18 when deputies observed an SUV near Arden Way and Avondale Avenue that fit the description of a vehicle that had been reported stolen, Grassmann said.

As deputies initiated contact with Calderon, they confirmed via a records check he was on active parole, which he had denied.

The dashboard camera video shows that as the two officers attempted to conduct a parole search, Calderon sped away in his SUV, leading the deputies to run back to their cruiser and give chase.

Video shows the SUV fleeing at high speeds and running stop signs. Grassmann says in the narration that the suspect fled at speeds above 65 mph on residential streets.

At one point, the SUV got a flat tire, Grassmann said. Deputies attempted a "PIT maneuver" to disable the vehicle, spinning the SUV out from its rear corner, but it continued to drive away, he said.

Calderon entered a parking lot at the Cal Expo complex shortly before 10:20 p.m., video timestamps show. His SUV became disabled as it drove over a concrete parking block and struck a fence, the clips show.

In an earlier statement, the Sheriff's Office said it used less-lethal "bean bag" rounds "in an attempt to see inside" the suspect vehicle. Wednesday's video revealed that the bean bag rounds failed to break the window, which Grassmann said was due to the thick film tint that was preventing visibility.

A group of deputies instead broke the window using batons, after approaching the rear window from behind the cover of two ballistic shields.

Moments later, a deputy can be heard saying, "He's digging around the back seat. He is reaching for a backpack."

Calderon cannot be clearly seen from the perspective of the dash camera up to this point in the video.

Shortly after the deputy mentioned the backpack, "K-9 Riley was deployed and engaged the suspect," Grassmann said.

Video shows Riley jumping on the SUV attempting to find a way to enter it. As he jumped on the hood, a deputy warned, "He's revving the engine, so go recall your dog."

A handler took control of Riley near the rear of the vehicle seconds later. Moments after that, Riley climbed through the broken rear window and into the SUV.

Timestamps are not shown at this point of the video and it cuts back to Grassmann, so it is not clear precisely how much time elapsed between Riley entering the vehicle and deputies approaching it.

"Officers were stacked behind a ballistic shield and approached the front driver's side door," Grassmann said. "As they opened the door, Calderon, who was sitting in the front seat, held a gun in his hand pointed at the deputies. Calderon fired nine rounds at the deputies at point-blank range. Deputies returned fire, fatally wounding Calderon."

The video shows that at least 10 deputies surrounded Calderon's vehicle.

Video released by the Sheriff's Office pauses at this point, "not shown due to graphic nature," according to on-screen text. Audio continues playing, and scores of gunshots can be heard continuously for about 10 seconds before a radio dispatcher states, "Shots fired. Officer down."

Video resumes briefly to show two deputies, one of them holding a shield, dragging an injured deputy back away from the vehicle. It was not clear whether this was Gibson or the other injured deputy, whose identity has not been released.

Gibson was pronounced dead at a hospital. The second deputy, a 13-year department veteran, suffered serious injuries but was "stabilized and transported to a trauma center" for treatment. That deputy "continues to convalesce at home," the Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Gibson, 31, was a six-year veteran of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office. He left behind his wife, Rachel Gibson, and their 9-month-old child, as well as his parents and siblings. Gibson did two tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps prior to joining the Sheriff's Office. In 2018, he earned a sheriff's award for bravery.

Gibson was remembered by his wife as "a damn good father and a damn good husband" at his funeral in early February at the Bayside Church Adventure Campus in Roseville.

Calderon, 46, died at the scene. His mother, Jenny, told The Sacramento Bee the morning after the fatal shootout that her son had a history of drug use and mental illness.

Grassmann said officers recovered a Glock handgun with an extended magazine used by Calderon in the shooting, and said they found 2 grams of methamphetamine in his pocket.

Calderon had an extensive criminal history. Grassmann revealed in Wednesday's video that Calderon in 2005 "admitted to being a Northerner gang member," more commonly known as Norteño.

Grassmann also said Calderon had had numerous run-ins with Sacramento police dating back to 2005, including at least two in which he or his mother said he expressed "an intent for suicide by cop."

The officer-involved shooting portion of the investigation is being investigated internally and independently reviewed by the Sacramento County district attorney and inspector general's offices.

The rest of the incident is being investigated by the Sacramento Police Department's homicide division due to Cal Expo being within city limits.

(c)2021 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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