The recent killing of a suicidal man by a Sandy Springs Police officer was a case of self-defense proven by video, according to the police chief. The police department has declined to release that video, and the man’s sister declined to speak to reporters pending a consultation with her attorney.
Erick Cruz Ramirez, 32, was shot to death by one officer March 21 on Northwood Drive. The police report contains only a single sentence about the incident and makes no mention of an attack on police officers. 911 call logs obtained by the Reporter say Ramirez had a knife, was “violent” and “not completely alert,” and apparently had already stabbed himself in the abdomen.
Police Chief Ken DeSimone defended the killing in comments at a May 7 City Council budget meeting. The shooting was captured on 10 different police car and body cameras, DeSimone said while discussing the department’s use of body cameras.
“That’s why there’s no public outrage about it,” DeSimone said of the killing. “Because you pull it up, and a guy was trying to kill a police officer with a butcher knife and he got real close to doing it.”
“We were lucky on that one,” he said.
The police video of the incident has not been released to the public. A Reporter request for a copy of the video was denied, with the department citing an Open Records Act exemption pertaining to an open police investigation.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting an independent investigation of the killing, said in its press release about the incident that shots were fired after Ramirez did not comply with verbal commands. No officers were injured in the incident, the GBI Said.
The GBI regularly investigates officer-involved shootings. Once its investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney’s office for review.
The March 21 incident began when police responded to a 911 call around 6:15 a.m. reporting an armed person outside 145 Northwood Drive, a condo complex off Roswell Road near I-285, according to the GBI. The 911 call log said that Ramirez had a “stab wound to abdomen, holding a knife.” The following entry says that shots were fired at 6:22 a.m.
Ramirez was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police spokesperson Sgt. Sam Worsham said that non-lethal force, like a Taser, was not used “because a suspect armed with a knife is a deadly force encounter.”
The call log said Ramirez was violent, threatening suicide and “not completely alert.”
He was initially reported to be holding a knife to his throat, the call log said. The log later reports that a man was running around the location and asking the officer “not to shoot him.” The log does not identify the man and it is unclear whether it was Ramirez.
The call log also stated someone was screaming that her brother is killing himself.
Ramirez’s sister, Karina Ramirez, speaking through a translator, declined to be interviewed and said she needed to consult with her attorney before speaking with reporters. She was identified as a person involved with the investigation on the police report and was reported as on scene during the shooting in the call log.
Worsham said in a written statement that no outside attorney has contacted the department about the shooting, and no complaints have been filed.
The police report form, which includes a section where the responding officers detail incidents, only said the officer was “dispatched to a person armed with a knife at the intersection of Kingsport Drive and Lake Placid Drive.” The police report listed the event as a suicide attempt.
Police reports for incidents like burglaries and arrests often provide much more detail and description of the event.
When asked about the lack of detail in the report, Worsham said that the department has “an internal policy on report writing guidelines.”
Two people were shot in separate incidents by Sandy Springs police in 2018. Both people were reported to be in stable condition when taken to the hospital. The GBI handed off those cases in late 2018 to the Fulton County District Attorney, which is nearing the end of its investigations, spokesperson Chris Hopper said.
–Laura Plummer contributed