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Police cleared in shooting of Santa Rosa man

The Sonoma County District Attorney?s Office has ruled Santa Rosa Police were justified in their fatal shooting of an unarmed bipolar man named Richard Timothy DeSantis one year ago.

?The evidence and the statements of the witnesses indicate that the officers reasonably feared for their lives and acted in legal self-defense,? District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua said Friday.

?I think it?s also important to note that the 911 calls confirms the danger that they faced that night, given that the wife, who called police, indicated that Mr. DeSantis was shooting a handgun in the ceiling in front of her and the two small children.

DeSantis, 30, was shot and killed April 9, 2007 outside his South Avenue home after his wife called authorities to report he was having a manic episode and had been shooting into the ceiling of their home, apparently believing there were enemies in the attic, authorities said.

Two children, aged 2 and 8, also were home, the District Attorney?s Office said in press release Friday. Investigators later seized at least two firearms from inside, the statement says.

Family members later said his widow, Patricia DeSantis, told officers that her husband was unarmed and motioned to them in the moments before they shot him that he had no weapon.

?It?s shocking to learn that shooting an unarmed man isn?t a crime,? Patricia DeSantis? attorney, Eric Safire, said Friday.

DeSantis? wife and mother have each filed federal civil rights suits against Santa Rosa Police, Flint and the officers involved, claiming authorities used excessive force against DeSantis in violation of his constitutional rights.

Those cases are pending.

Police said the lighting was poor and not all of them could see Richard DeSantis? hands when he came outside. They said they did not know he was unarmed, according to the statement from the District Attorney?s Office.


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