NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) – The man who was shot and killed by a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy after he reportedly charged at one of the deputies with a pitchfork Monday afternoon has been identified.
The deputies were called to a home in the 6800 block of Weddigen Way near Gothberg Monday afternoon for reports of a dispute between neighbors. When they arrive, Pugach emerged from the garage and charged at them, according to department spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos.
Deputies ordered Pugach to stop but he reportedly kept coming. A female deputy fell to the ground while backing up away from the man, and the other deputy shot the man several times when he continued to advance on her, Ramos said.
“He refused commands to stop,” Ramos said. “One of the deputies fired, striking him in the upper body.”
One neighbor said the fight was over dirt. He said one man and his wife were weeding and accidently put dirt in another man’s driveway. That second man responded by dumping dirt on his neighbor’s car.
“He picked it up and threw it on Jim and Diane’s car. They said,’Don’t do that. I didn’t mean to put it in your yard but please don’t put it on my car.’ He reached his hand out to shake it and he slapped it and said ‘No, I don’t accept your apology,'” neighbor Louie Gile said of the dispute.
That’s when the neighbors called 911.
Pugach’s family told CBS13 the man was mentally ill.
“I think he’s sick in the head,” family member Tony Pugach said.
This shooting marks the tenth time this year that Sacramento County deputies have opened fire on a suspect, the most in at least a decade.
Deputies were involved in just six shootings all last year, and one of the previous highs was in 2009, with eight.
Sheriff Scott Jones said the increase could be a combination of many factors.
“I think some of it may be a statistical anomaly,” he said. “Certainly some may be the height of desperation, the poor economy.”
And the sheriff points to cuts in mental health care as just another reason more deputies are opening fire.
“Folks that don’t get availed of the services that they need and that is, only as we see in this tragic case, that it’s going to exacerbate the problem,” he said.
The sheriff’s department certainly isn’t alone in seeing an increase in officer-involved shootings. There have been at least 11 in the past six weeks involving area agencies.