Nevada County sheriff’s deputies back on duty after fatal shooting | TheUnion.com

Nevada County sheriff’s deputies back on duty after fatal shooting

Nevada County sheriff’s deputies Brandon Tripp and Taylor King have returned to duty after a stint on paid administrative leave following the Jan. 1 shooting death of Gabriel Strickland.

Tripp and King returned to duty Wednesday, Sheriff Shannan Moon said. Their return was followed on Thursday by Moon and Grass Valley Police Chief Alex Gammelgard releasing a 9 minute edited “critical incident video” of the fatal confrontation.

Grass Valley Police Officer Brian Hooper, meanwhile, remained on leave Thursday, Gammelgard said.

The video that was released represents a small portion of the hours of raw video footage and contains footage of the same event from different officers at different angles, as well as audio of the 911 call that prompted a law enforcement response.

Three primary sources of footage were released: dash-cam video from Tripp’s vehicle, and body-cam video from Grass Valley Officers Conrad Ball and Dennis Grube, neither of whom discharged their weapons.

Both Moon and Gammelgard emphasized that video footage was just one facet of the entire investigation, which remains in the hands of the Nevada County District Attorney’s office.

“I think the footage provides one important component of what happened that day,” Gammelgard said. “I don’t have a fully informed opinion (yet). The district attorney is reviewing this from a legality standpoint, We conduct our own review as it relates to our policies, procedures and training.”

Gammelgard and Moon both noted that their internal investigations will rely heavily on the results of the district attorney’s investigation.

And that, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh, is months away from concluding.

Investigation

While Walsh hailed the release of the video in the interests of promoting transparency, he said the investigation is far from over.

“We are still waiting on the autopsy results,” he said. “There will be no final determination until then.”

Those results typically take two to three months, Walsh said, adding that issuing an overall report can take as long as a year.

“I think this will go faster,” he said. “It’s important, if we can, to issue the findings (quickly) — but it’s most important to be thorough and accurate.”

Walsh said his investigators are still in the initial stage of gathering all available evidence, which will include not just the autopsy but also lab results and witness interviews.

“We’re obviously aware of some of the evidence and can form a reasonable opinion,” he said. “But we won’t make a conclusion until we have everything.”

From a departmental standpoint, Gammelgard said, other factors that still need to be explored include the officers’ state of mind that day.

Strickland had a history of violence and of carrying firearms, Gammelgard said, adding he did not know if any of the officers involved — other than Grube — were aware of his identity.

On the video, Strickland can be heard telling officers he was carrying a BB gun.

“But the officers can’t be expected to know that (for sure),” Gammelgard said. “You can’t make assumptions when lives are on the line.”

Moon stressed the importance of having an independent investigation into the facts.

“Having the District Attorney’s Office be the one to make that determination (on whether the use of force was justified) is important, not just for the community but for my staff as well,” she said.

Moon called Strickland’s shooting “an extremely tragic situation,” adding, “This was an event that was quick, things are rapidly evolving, with folks doing the best they could do to control the situation around them. … Making sure the community is safe, that’s what our training is about. And they absolutely responded. The collaboration and teamwork between the departments, I thought, shows in the response to the (911) call. Everyone trying to do their best.”

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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