Posted on: March 24, 2022, 08:10h.
Last updated on: March 24, 2022, 08:10h.
Recently-released dash-cam and surveillance videos show the escalating events before a deputy shot a driver last year at California’s Thunder Valley Casino Resort. He was in a parked SUV in the casino’s parking lot, but then sped away with the deputy leaning into the driver’s door.
The Placer County deputy was dragged by the SUV for about 150 yards after the driver hit the gas during the Jan. 11 confrontation in the casino’s east parking lot. The deputy, fearing for his safety, then shot the driver.
The suspect, Albert Savala III, 30, of Sacramento, Calif., who is Black, was wounded and required treatment at a local hospital.
He later was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, evading, possession of a firearm, destruction of evidence, and conspiracy. His bond was set at $200,000.
Under standard practice with officer-involved shootings, the deputy was placed on paid administrative leave. He has since returned to duty. He also was injured in the incident and required treatment at a local hospital.
Because it involved a shooting, the incident was reviewed by the Placer County District Attorney’s Office. They concluded that “the deputy’s use of force was reasonable and within the bounds of the law,” Angela Musallam, a spokeswoman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, told Casino.org this week.
The sheriff’s office also conducted its own review. The preliminary investigation “indicated the deputy was in compliance with the law and agency policy,” Musallam added.
There are conflicting versions of what took place at the parking lot and on nearby streets that day. Musallam said deputies at the parking lot initially questioned Savala after they saw possible motor vehicle violations.
It appears the SUV may have had a non-functioning blinker. The videos, requested and broadcast by KXTV, a California TV station, showed Savala also was told by a deputy his registration was expired.
But Savala “became evasive, argumentative, and refused to follow the deputies’ orders,” Musallam said. The unnamed deputy then told him the SUV was going to be searched.
The deputy next ordered Savala “to keep his hands on the steering wheel so he could take the keys out of the ignition.”
As the deputy leaned in to grab the keys, Savala shifted the vehicle into drive to flee. The deputy tried to take control of Savala and the vehicle to prevent him from leaving, but Savala accelerated rapidly and made a sharp turn, causing the deputy to hold onto the vehicle to avoid being run over,” the sheriff’s statement provided to Casino.org said.
“The deputy instructed Savala to stop but he refused. Fearing for his life and safety, the deputy fired his service weapon, shooting Savala twice. Savala continued accelerating and jumped a curb, throwing the deputy from the vehicle.”
Savala then drove onto local streets. Deputies followed him for about two miles. Savala stopped the SUV near Fiddyment Road and Athens Avenue.
Placer County Sheriff’s detectives said they later located a loaded firearm along Athens Avenue, the route of the pursuit.
A woman in the SUV with Savala was not injured. The two were heading to the casino when deputies pulled the vehicle over.
Suspect’s Family Wants Justice
Savala has said he was not resisting arrest. Savala’s mother also has concerns about the incident.
His story needs to be heard,” Katina Coronado told California TV station KCRA last year about the incident involving her son. “At this point, I want justice.”
“He stated that multiple times that he feared for his life and again the answer to that was to shoot him,” Coronado told the station.
Savala repeatedly told the deputy he wanted a supervisor to come to the parking lot. “I know my rights,” he told the deputy.
Last year, a California publication, called The Davis Vanguard, reported that Savala did not have a weapon in the SUV. He also was shot four times, the report added.
Savala recalled how a paramedic asked a deputy to take off handcuffs on Savala, so he could check his blood pressure in the ambulance as it raced to the local hospital. The deputy took the handcuffs off, but warned Savala, “if you move or do anything wrong I will shoot you in your f***ing head,” Savala told the Vanguard.
A deputy further told Savala “you ended up in the wrong county,” the Vanguard reported, and he was called a “gang banger” by a deputy.
Also, Jamilia Land, the founder of the Anti-Violence Safety and Accountability Project, said Savala remained at the hospital for three days. He suffered 25 fractures in an arm, and required surgery, the report added.
Minorities Allegedly Targeted in Placer County
Leia Schenk, the founder of Empact Org., was further quoted by the Vanguard that “when it comes to Black and Brown people they are targeted very heavily in Placer County.”
Land also claimed the deputy involved in the shooting has worked in three different law enforcement agencies in a five-year period.
Coronado set up a GoFundMe page for her son’s legal expenses. As of this week, it had raised $2,789. He is the father of two boys and a girl.