Bryce Heinlein of the Sacramento Police Department gives details on the officer-involved shooting in North Sacramento on Friday, February 10, 2017. Jose Luis Villegas The Sacramento Bee
Bryce Heinlein of the Sacramento Police Department gives details on the officer-involved shooting in North Sacramento on Friday, February 10, 2017. Jose Luis Villegas The Sacramento Bee

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Sacramento mayor changes mind, wants immediate release of police shooting video

By Anita Chabria

achabria@sacbee.com

March 21, 2017 03:53 PM

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg on Tuesday said he will ask the police department to immediately release footage of a February shootout between officers and a parolee in North Sacramento, reversing his stance from a day earlier.

Steinberg previously said he would be willing to give police a waiver to withhold the incident video for 60 days while it continued investigating the Feb. 10 incident.

In that event, Armani Sicilian Lee, 28, allegedly fired on a marked K-9 unit and other undercover officers who were attempting to detain him. Three officers fired back at Lee, striking him multiple times. Lee survived, and is currently being held without bail at the Sacramento County Main Jail while awaiting trial on charges including attempted murder. No officers were shot during the incident.

The Lee gunfight is the first police shooting since Sacramento enacted a policy requiring that video in “critical incidents” be released within 30 days of the event. If police don’t want to release the video, the policy requires them to seek a waiver from the City Council.

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Interim Police Chief Brian Louie said Monday that he intended to make that request at Tuesday night’s council meeting because the investigation was ongoing. Louie’s request is supported by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office.

Council members were expected to vote on the waiver request late Tuesday night.

Earlier Tuesday, Steinberg said he changed his mind after he’d heard from concerned community members, and that he planned to vote against any delay. He said because the Lee case was the first incident under the new policy, “It’s especially important to send a strong signal.”

Steinberg said that as he “dug deeper” into the police department’s request for a delay, he couldn’t see a “compelling” reason for it.

Steinberg has not seen the video, but he said he believes releasing it will show the police had acted properly and “enhance confidence” in the department, which has struggled under scrutiny after two officers shot a mentally-ill black man in North Sacramento last summer, prompting community concern and a series of reforms.

Steinberg said that when the public sees the Lee video, they “will get to see the situation the police faced.”

Councilman Allen Warren, an author of the video release policy, said he is “open” to hearing Louie’s request but supports the mayor’s position.

“We need to be about producing the information when it is available,” Warren said. “This is a test and I believe that our policy was put in place for this very reason.”

Councilman Larry Carr, another author of the video policy, said Tuesday that he would also push to release the video if the only basis for the waiver was an ongoing investigation.

“If that’s the end of the argument then I will be recommending we do not grant the waiver.”

Anita Chabria: 916-321-1049, @chabriaa