District attorney: Turlock CHP shooting justified
Mar 02, 2012 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Stanislaus County district attorney has deemed the fatal shooting of a Sacramento man by California Highway Patrol officers at a gas station outside of Turlock last summer to be justified.
On Thursday, District Attorney Birgit Fladager released a report saying after a review of the evidence and an analysis of case law, the incident that led to the death of Carrick "Eric" Vigen, 37, was legally justified and the CHP officers acted reasonably.
On June 18, officers responded to a report of a suicidal man with a gun at the Valero gas station at the intersection of Crows Landing Road and West Main Street, about seven miles west of Turlock.
The CHP officers involved were Sgt. Ian Troxell, Jonathan Box and Adam Percey.
The report says Vigen was in phone contact with his family when officers arrived, and had indicated he had a gun and was going to kill himself. His family said he was bipolar and possibly off his medication.
Officers found Vigen in his truck, rocking back and forth, and ordered him to get out of the vehicle. When he did leave the truck, the report says he turned to the officers and raised his arms in front of him "in a shooting stance" with "something dark in his hands."
Troxell then yelled, "Gun," and fired on Vigen, with the other officers following suit. The report says the officers fired for 13 seconds, shooting 55 rounds. The autopsy report shows Vigen was hit 14 times.
The investigation determined that Vigen did not have a gun and never fired a gun. But the report states that he "intentionally misled the officers" into believing he had a gun.
Background investigation uncovered that Vigen had a long history of mental issues and had previously attempted suicide. The report says his family confirmed that Vigen was suicidal at the time of the incident. He told his family he had a ".45 on his lap" and he was going to have a "shoot-out with the cops."
The autopsy shows that Vigen had a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 percent -- more than three time the legal limit for driving -- and an antidepressant in his system.
The coroner's amended death certificate lists the circumstances of death as "suicide by law enforcement officers."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284.
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