A Butte County deputy shot and killed 24-year-old Cory Bush Sunday night in Palermo after responding to a call for help dealing with a mentally unstable subject.
His family had called for help saying he was having a nervous breakdown and was “tearing up the house.”
One witness, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said that the shooting was uncalled for and that Butte County deputies knew that Bush was only in possession of a pellet gun.
The Sheriff's Office said the deputy who fired felt his life was in danger.
This is the second officer involved shooting in Butte County in less than a month.
Butte County deputies responded to a home on Refuge Avenue in Palermo around 7 p.m. May 18. Radio traffic shows Bush was distraught and may have wanted to die at the hands of deputies.
“He’s [Bush] wanted suicide by cop,” said the dispatcher on the recordings. “He wanted him to call the police for help.”
Dispatchers said that Bush had a gun on him.
“[He’s] assuring me it's a pellet gun,” said the dispatcher.
Sergeant Matt Keeling and Deputies Brian Evans, Robert Allen, and been Cornelius rushed to the scene.
“He still has the pellet gun in his hand,” said the dispatcher once the deputies were at the home.
The pellet gun was made to look like a .22 caliber long gun said deputies. According to a witness, Bush was hiding in his room with the gun in hand when deputies arrived.
They convinced bush to come out to the driveway through the side door. He came out with the gun in his hand.
Deputies released a K9 unit and Bush dropped the gun.
The eyewitness then said the dog was called off, Bush picked up the gun and Deputy Ben Cornelius fired from about 10 feet away.
“The officer felt threatened and ultimately used deadly force in this case,” said Lieutenant Al Smith with the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff's Office referred us to the District Attorney's office for information about this incident and didn't answer why deputies couldn't use less than lethal force.
“You know this is one of those cases, that pretty much every law enforcement officer dreads,” said Smith. “It's part of the job and definitely not a well liked part of the job.”
District Attorney Mike Ramsey wasn't able to confirm whether the weapon Bush had was in fact a pellet gun. Ramsey said he'll have more information on the case next week.
Deputy Cornelius has been placed on administrative leave.