Leday Family Demands Answers

originally published at www.pressdemocrat.com

Family of man killed by deputy wants more answers


Published: Friday, June 25, 2010 at 6:40 p.m.

Officials with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office are still withholding the name of the deputy who shot and killed a Santa Rosa man in a June 1 pursuit, saying they continue to investigate possible threats made against the deputy.

Until they feel certain that the deputy has a plan to manage any threats made against him for his role in the incident, they won’t release his name or any details about his history with the office, Capt. Matt McCaffrey said Friday.

“We have some risks to verify,” McCaffrey said of what Sheriff Bill Cogbill had previously called possible gang-related threats against the deputy. The assessment will determine whether the safety risks are “above and beyond what would normally come with the job,” he said.

The son of the man killed in the encounter, 49-year-old Albert Mike Leday, Jr., said Friday that he has been frustrated by unanswered calls to police and sheriff’s officials as he seek more information about his father’s death.

Leday was shot in the chest after he led deputies on a high-speed chase through Larkfield that ended outside Coddingtown Mall when he crashed into a light pole. Witnesses and police officials said Leday refused to surrender and reached behind his back. The deputy shot three times and struck him once, police said.

His son, Justin Leday, 25, of Santa Rosa said calls to police and sheriff’s officials went unanswered until this week, and he said he’s still trying to get more information about the incident.

“Someone from the sheriff’s called me and said they had information on their website if I wanted to know more,” Leday said.

The family has hired an attorney to help them get a report on the shooting, he said.

Sheriff’s officials can’t tell the family anything more than they’ve released to the public, McCaffrey said. He said he hopes for an update on the investigation sometime next week.

“Some threats had been ruled out,” McCaffrey said. “We’re closer to being comfortable to releasing the deputy’s name.”

Santa Rosa Police Department officials are in charge of investigating the shooting. A countywide protocol calls for an outside agency to evaluate officer-related fatal incidents. That investigation could take months, police have said.

Law enforcement agencies are required by law to release details about a public officer’s involvement in a fatal incident. Experts in First Amendment laws have said that agencies also have a legal basis to investigate threats against their employees before making information public.

Leday’s family members have said they will not give up until they can get a fuller explanation from the sheriff’s office, including the identify of the deputy.

“I don’t want people to forget about this, I feel like they’re trying to prolong it so people forget,” Justin Leday said. “I want to make it clear I’m not going away until my questions are answered.”

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