first published on September 5, 2017 by Matt Silvey
(This was originally posted on my own personal blog, but due to overwhelming server traffic, my ISP keeps crashing. Thank you to Tim and the other fine folks here at Full30 for allowing me to crosspost this piece here.)
In my position here with this blog and with my Facebook page, I sometimes become privy to official information before it is released via official routes. That is exactly what has happened in the case of the murder of Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputy Bob French. The original, official versions of the incident in which Bob was killed left a lot to be desired. There were inconsistencies and blatantly erroneous information in the official versions, leaving those with intimate knowledge of the case extremely frustrated. To many folks who knew the full story, it felt as if the department was hiding the truth.
Come to find out, there were a couple of completely erroneous rumors floating around the department regarding the incident and management was trying to get all their ducks in a row, evidence wise, so that they could dispel all of those rumors at the same time that they released the full story about how heroically Bob acted that day, and heroic he was.
What follows is a Readers Digest version of what transpired that day. Not having access to the actual evidence, what follows is what I have been told by a number of sources who have had direct access to the evidence, and directly from those who were at the scene. There may be some minor discrepancies, but the overall picture should be accurate.
Detectives were going to contact the hotel room related to an earlier stolen vehicle. The room was supposed to be unoccupied, with only some physical evidence inside to be recovered. Deputy Bob French was one of the deputies on that call. Bob was in his car and was positioned two businesses to the east. He was the only cop in a car at the time, and was in position in case one of the stolen vehicle suspects who might possibly be at the hotel, made it to a car and fled.
As detectives attempted to enter the supposedly empty hotel room, the suspect inside, a man who would have been in prison were it not for AB-109, opened fire with a handgun through the hotel room door and walls, striking two CHP officers, injuring one seriously and the other not quite as bad. The injured CHP officers and one other Sacramento Deputy fled to the stairwell and began to head to the parking lot to be evacuated to the hospital for medical treatment. All of this was broadcast via the radio, and additional resources began heading to the scene, including Bob.
At that time, the suspect in the room, who was now armed with a folding stock AK (which is not a “high powered” rifle as has been reported to the media), started to flee out the back of the room onto the balcony. One solo Sacramento County deputy was on the back side of the hotel at that time, and due to the ongoing investigation, his name is being withheld. That deputy, who was armed only with his handgun, engaged the suspect in a firefight that lasted more than 60 seconds. The deputy was miraculously not hit, but everything around him was shredded by the incoming rounds fired by the suspect. The suspect, realizing the deputy was not going to disengage, managed to get to the ground and fled east, the same direction the other deputy went as he evacuated the two wounded CHP officers.
Let me just say this right here, that unnamed deputy who was by himself on the rear of the hotel, that man is a big damn hero!
While that firefight was occurring, Bob had driven his car from the location down the street to the front of the hotel. As he parked, the deputy and two wounded CHP officers exited the building and ran toward Bob. As they reached Bob’s car, one of the wounded officers started to get into the rear seat of his car. Bob told them to head to the evacuating deputy’s car which was a few feet away so that Bob could watch their backs.
As they ran from Bob’s car to the other car a few feet away, the suspect emerged from the same location from whence the injured cops had just come. As he exited, he saw the cops and immediately engaged them with his AK. Bob stepped forward and returned the favor with his AR, causing the suspect to slow and redirect his fire, at Bob. Bob continued engaging the suspect in a firefight for a short while, as Bob used the rear corner of his patrol vehicle as cover. During this time, the deputy who evacuated the wounded CHP officers sped off to the hospital with the more serious of the wounded cops.
Other units arrived and also engaged the suspect. One of these responding units was positioned behind Bob and perfectly captured the ensuing firefight on the in-car camera system.
During the gun battle, one of the suspect’s rounds hit the window of Bob’s car and ricocheted, sending a large fragment of the bullet into Bob’s shoulder, between the top edges of the vest panels. That bullet fragment somehow missed all of the bones and went directly to Bob’s heart, entering his left ventricle. I have been told that even if a trauma surgeon was on scene and started working on Bob at this point, Bob would not have made it.
That fact did not stop Bob though. He shook it off, likely not realizing how badly he was injured, and reengaged the suspect who was just getting into a car at this time. As the suspect fled through the parking lot, he continued firing his weapon at the cops, and the cops present, including Bob, did the same in return. (The suspect later died from the wounds he received during this gun battle.)
Once the suspect left the parking lot, Bob walked back up to the front of his car. It is at this point that it appears, at least from the video, that Bob realizes he is seriously injured. Bob, being the calm, seasoned cop that he was, dropped the magazine out of his rifle, cleared the chamber and returned the rifle to the gun lock in his car. He sat down, then fell to the pavement.
At this time, one of the deputies on scene ran to him. In typical, calm Bob fashion, with his chew still in his cheek, Bob provided a suspect and suspect vehicle description. As he laid on the ground waiting for medical help to arrive, again in typical Bob fashion, he told one of the cops there with him “hurry up and move me, the Goddam asphalt is hot.”
I’m told Bob was talking up to the end, and only spit his chew out once he was in the ambulance. Bob, being the tough bastard he was, lived for 10 minutes after receiving a non-survivable wound.
Between Bob and the unnamed deputy on the back side of the hotel, those two men almost assuredly saved the lives of the two CHP wounded officers and the deputy who was evacuating them. Bob died a huge hero. Bob’s story deserves to be told. His heroism must be known.
Bob, thank you for your service and your sacrifice. We have the watch from here. Rest in peace brother.
* This recounting of the events is in no way meant to downplay the actions of any of the involved officers. From what I have been told, there were a number of heroic actions performed that day, by a number of different people, up to and including the firefighters who tirelessly tried to save Bob. I’ve been told that the professionalism displayed at this incident, especially considering the circumstances, was awe inspiring.