One Year On and Still No Answers on Killing of Sacramento Man Daniel Shaham by CHP Officer

Daniel Shaham was returning from a driving vacation in Northern California when he was shot to death last year in a rural area of Siskiyou County.

The 31-year-old Sacramento man, a former chemistry major at Sacramento State University, died June 4, 2016, of “multiple gunshot wounds,” according to his death certificate, after what officials say was an encounter with a California Highway Patrol officer while Shaham was parked along the roadside north of Weed.

What led to the shooting that Saturday morning remains a mystery more than a year later.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office says its investigation still is not complete, and a lawyer for Shaham’s mother says he has been unable to get any records. There also is a dispute over whether Shaham was armed, as the sheriff’s office was quoted as saying immediately after the shooting, or whether the weapon was simply a small pocketknife found later in his car. In a video interview shortly after the shooting, Siskiyou County Sheriff John Lopey refers to Shaham as a “pedestrian.”

“Both Siskiyou County and the CHP have withheld all information about the shooting,” said attorney Michael Haddad, who has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Sacramento on behalf of Shaham’s mother, Sacramento physician Denise Smart.

The lawsuit says Shaham was mentally ill, and had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, but was “moderate- to high-functioning.” Such illness affects about 0.3 percent of the population, and can include symptoms of hallucinations, depression and delusions, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Shaham attended high school in Larkspur, and since 2007 had lived with his mother in Sacramento. He “loved to draw, read, cook, listen to music and go for drives in the country” the lawsuit says. “He tended to be shy, submissive, and compliant with appropriate guidance or direction.”

“He was mentally ill, but functional,” Haddad said. “He liked to go out for a couple of days on his own and go driving in nature and stay in motels and get away from things to de-stress a little bit. He was coming home from one of those very short vacations.”

The day of his death, Shaham was stopped along the Louie Road overcrossing near I-5 when a passerby decided he was behaving oddly and called 911, the lawsuit says.

CHP Officer Paul Shadwell responded to the call. According to the lawsuit, he pulled up behind Shaham’s car “and got out of his car to speak with him.”

Shaham “would have been shy, submissive and uncomfortable with a law enforcement officer using command presence and communications,” the lawsuit says, adding that Shaham had not committed any crime and was not armed.

After speaking with Shaham, the CHP officer returned to his car and reviewed some dispatch logs, the lawsuit says, then “for currently unknown reasons decided to re-initiate contact” with Shaham.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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