A retired Santa Rosa man who interrupted an apparent burglary at his home over the weekend said he had no choice when the suspected thief tried to escape and drove her car straight at him.
He fired his pistol. Three times.
The bullets were intended to stop the car, said Jacques Cadgene, 72. The former auto mechanic aimed them directly into the engine block of a Honda Accord driven by Shaylin Kay Laumann, 36, according to accounts provided Monday by investigators and Cadgene.
"I'm an old man and when someone drives a car at me, I shot to disable the car," Cadgene said.
The car sputtered to a halt several blocks away, where police arrested Laumann. The shots damaged the power steering, the alternator and the exhaust manifold.
Cadgene acted within his rights to defend himself from what he feared was a threat to his life, Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Raasch said.
"What he did, based on what happened, where he was standing, he was justified doing what he was doing," said Raasch.
Firing a gun is always considered "deadly force" by the law, regardless of whether you're shooting at a person or not, said Paul Lozada, a criminal defense attorney who teaches at Empire College School of Law in Santa Rosa.
"The case law and statutory law supports use of deadly force when you feel in imminent danger," Lozada said. "That ultimately has to be the reason you did it."
The confrontation occurred Saturday at about 5:30 p.m. when Cadgene and his wife returned to their Bennett Valley Road home from running errands.
They found a strange car in the driveway and their front door open, Raasch said. They could see the face of a woman they didn't recognize peering out a front window.
Cadgene went in the front door and confronted the woman, who claimed to be looking for someone. Then a second woman appeared from somewhere in the home.
The women left the house, and Cadgene got his 9 mm handgun and put it in his waistband, Raasch said.
The Cadgenes believed they'd interrupted a burglary and told the women they had to stay because officers were on their way, Raasch said.
One woman walked down the driveway and left. When the second woman got into her car, Cadgene got into his. He called 911 as he drove partially down the driveway and parked, hoping to block her exit, Raasch said.
He then got out of his car and stood nearby, gun in hand.
She began backing down the narrow, curved driveway in her Honda Accord, revving the engine, said Raasch.
Cadgene moved, fearing he'd be hit, but believed he still was in danger as he stood on the edge of a steep drop-off with the car approaching, Raasch said.
The woman steered into bushes, attempting to get around his car, but still needed to swing back onto the driveway and could have hit the man, Raasch said.
"He was in fear for his life and his safety and was trying to disable the car," said Raasch.
She passed within one or two feet of Cadgene, who shot three times, hitting the hood and engine compartment.
"I didn't want to take a chance of bullets going astray," Cadgene said. "I shot straight down the hood to the motor. Unfortunately it didn't stop it right away."