Sacramento Deputies responding to a neighbor dispute shoot and kill a man.
Around 2 p.m. Monday, next-door neighbors started arguing about dirt in a driveway, according to Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputies.
A family member of one of the involved parties called deputies to investigate the fight. They arrived at a North Highlands home, near Weddigen Way and Gothberg, but no one answered the door.
Instead, deputies say the garage door opened, and 40-year-old Nikolay Pugach came out of the garage with a pitchfork.
Deputies asked Pugach to stop and put the tool down, but according to Sacramento Sheriff’s Department spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos, Pugach did not stop and kept coming toward them with the pitchfork.
One of the deputies, a 16-year veteran, fired his weapon at the man, killing him.
A woman identifying herself as the Pugach's niece spoke with FOX40, questioning the use of deadly force against a man armed only with a pitchfork. "It's not like he had a gun that he can shoot them (with) in a second and they'll be dead," the woman said.
Explaining the situation, Ramos said, "While the individual advanced with the pitchfork, one of the officers was backing up, giving commands for him to stop, and fell backwards. And the other officer fired in response to the threat that was presented."
"We're not alone," Sheriff Scott Jones said on scene. "I think the increased incidents of officer-involved shootings are a phenomenon that's increasing all over the state."
Jones said the trend may be a statistical anomaly. But, he added, the rise may have to do with factors including public desperation because of the economy, and diminishing law enforcement resources. He also mentioned prisoner realignment which sometimes results in shorter sentences and less supervision of parolees.
Relatives of Pugach told FOX40 he had a mental disability. This raises another issue about a lack of community resources that Jones addressed with news crews on scene.
"You know, I'm not going to be critical because we've had to make difficult decisions all throughout the state," the Sheriff said. But the fact remains, we have a lot of mentally ill folks who don't get availed to the services that they need."