North Highlands pitchfork-wielding man identified | Crime
NORTH HIGHLANDS, CA - A North Highlands man armed with a pitchfork who was shot dead by a sheriff's deputy when deputies said he refused to put down the weapon was identified as 40-year-old Nikolay Pugach.
The incident took place on the 6800 block of Weddigen Road Monday afternoon.
Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos said the confrontation began with deputies responding to a dispute at 2 p.m. between the man and a neighbor.
"While they're standing at the front door attempting to make contact, suddenly the garage door comes opening up, a male adult emerges with a pitchfork and begins to advance very aggressively towards the officers," Ramos said.
Deputies issued numerous commands for Pugach to put the pitchfork down, according to Ramos. When he refused, deputies shot him.
The cousin of Pugach said deputies should have hit him with Taser or shot him in an extremity, instead of shooting him in the upper body six times.
"They were on the driveway, on the walkway, and he came out from the garage. You have enough time to get the taser gun, what's that for? Or you have enough time to shoot him in the leg or in the arm. I mean, you don't just shoot at the person," said the suspect's niece, who gave her name only as Tanya.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said the issue of mental illness is a difficult one for law enforcement.
"The fact remains, we have mentally ill folks who don't get availed to the services that they need and that is only as we see in this tragic case, it's gonna exacerbate the problem," Jones said.
Jones said other issues, such as lower law enforcement staffing and the sour economy could also be factors, but he said it was too soon to know whether early release of prisoners by the state is a factor.
This was the 11th Sacramento-deputy-involved-shooting this year, Ramos said. The tally includes four shootings since May 19 and one last week when a CHP officer accompanying a deputy on a contact call shot a man.
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