Federal judge was warned not to release man who killed Sacramento Co. deputy
Reporter: Kevin Oliver
From KCRA News
SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
An assistant U.S. attorney warned a federal judge not to release Thomas Littlecloud last summer, saying he had talked about shooting police and he had rammed police cars before to get away.
Authorities said Littlecloud shot two California Highway Patrol officers and killed Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Robert French when they tried to serve a search warrant at a Ramada Inn last month.
Littlecloud’s defense attorney asked the judge to release him at a pre-trial detention hearing despite federal drug trafficking, counterfeiting, identity theft and weapons charges. He was facing a mandatory minimum 12-year sentence in federal prison.
You can listen to extended audio from the hearing in the video player at the top of this story
At a hearing on Aug. 24, he told Judge Sallie Kim he wanted to change his life.
“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,” Littlecloud told Kim.
His attorney suggested he be allowed to go to rehab before any trial, dismissing other warrants and past convictions.
“Meth is clearly a huge problem for him, was clearly a huge problem in this incident and whatever happens with this case, we want, I think all want, to be a situation where he does better and he’s going to need drug treatment,” defense attorney Galia Amram told the court.
But federal prosecutor Brian Faerstein told the judge Littlecloud had been in and out of jail and prison for 12 years, citing case after case in which Littlecloud fired guns at victims and did whatever it took to get away from police.
“When he’s approached by the officers, his instinct is to flee, is to drive, speed away, to ram their police cars to get away from them,” Faerstein said.
Prosecutors told the judge they had recordings of Littlecloud talking about using guns against police.
“Among other things, the defendant was heard saying that he considered shooting the police officer but then decided just to run. So it’s a consistent pattern,” Faerstein added. “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.”
But Kim decided to allow Littlecloud out of federal custody to check himself in at the New Bridge Foundation drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Berkeley.
“I’m going to allow Mr. Littlecloud to go to New Bridge with grave misgivings. I have to tell you Mr. Littlecloud, you’re not going to get any chances there. One violation of their rules and you’re going straight back to jail,” Kim said.
Kim did not respond to KCRA 3’s repeated requests for comment in light of the shooting at the Ramada Inn.
However, she did speak to Thomas Littlecloud before he left the courthouse for the last time last summer.
“This is your one shot,” Kim said. “You know, this is your one chance to get treatment for your problems and I hope that it works for you but I’m very worried. I have to be honest with you, I’m very concerned and so this is your chance to prove us all wrong that you can do it.”
Littlecloud responded, “Thank you, your honor.”
He never completed treatment and never re-appeared in federal court.