Sacramento, CA - Federal Judge Sallie Kim did not heed a warning given by an U.S. Assistant Attorney that Thomas Littlecloud was a danger to the lives of police officer, and she released him anyway. Shortly afterwards, two California Highway Patrol officers were shot and one Sacramento deputy was murdered by Littlecloud.
A pre-trial detention hearing was held on August 24 for Thomas Littlecloud on charges of federal drug trafficking, counterfeiting, identity theft, and weapons charges, according to KCRA. He was facing a mandatory 12-year sentence.
At the hearing, Littlecloud's defense attorney Galia Amram asked federal Judge Sallie Kim to release her client, despite the pending charges. Littlecloud also spoke at his hearing and told Judge Kim that he wanted to change his life.
He said, "I didn't know, that, like my life mattered, you know. So, I make decisions for myself. It was only until I was sitting in jail, like, coming down, I realized all the people I hurt."
Amram said that methamphetamine was Littlecloud's biggest problem, and that he would need drug treatment.
In response, U.S. Assistant Attorney Brian Faerstein warned Judge Kim about releasing Littlecloud. He said that Littlecloud had been in and out of jail for 12 years, and cited case after case that showed Littlecloud fired guns at victims, and did whatever he had to do to get away from the police and justice, including ramming police cars.
Faerstein told Judge Sallie Kim that they had recordings of Littlecloud threatening to shoot police, and that it was a "consistent" pattern with him.
He said, "The defendant has three prior firearms convictions and yet, here again, he was carrying a gun and had another gun in his car in the same bag as where, you know, over 75 grams of pure meth was found. This is conduct that is continuing and it's, it's, he's not learning from his past mistakes."
However, Judge Kim refused to listen to prosecutors, or consider the evidence in front her (Littlecloud's criminal history), and released him. She said that she had "misgivings," and it would only take "one violation" to send Littlecloud straight back to jail.
He was apparently supposed to go to the New Bridge Foundation drug and alcohol rehabilitation on Monday, August 28, but records show that he did not complete treatment. He also did not go back to federal court.
And on August 30, a multi-agency auto theft task force was conducting an investigation at the Ramada Inn and was going to search a room connected to an auto theft ring. Littlecloud opened fire on officers through the door and walls, striking two CHP officers.
He then went out on the balcony with a high-powered rifle and opened fire on deputies, fatally shooting Deputy Bob French. The hero deputy managed to return fire although he had been shot in his heart.
The suspect was able to flee to a vehicle and led officers on a pursuit which ended in a gunfight on El Camino Ave. Littlcloud was shot, and later died at the hospital.
Deputy French was a 21-year veteran of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, and was murdered exactly ten years after his parents were killed in a plane crash. He was survived by his girlfriend, three adult children, grandchildren, and a sister.
Do you think that Judge Kim hold responsibility for this hero's murder? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.