Doctor: Yuba City woman killed by police mixed meds, alcohol
A doctor, listed as an expert witness for Yuba City in the civil case filed by the family over the police fatally shooting their mother in 2010, says Victoria Roger-Vasselin's depression along with prescription drug and alcohol use resulted in a lack of judgment and impulse behavior.
"Should she not have been intoxicated on the drugs and alcohol, her behavior would have been markedly different and her death would probably have been averted," Dr. Raymond Deutsch writes. "This is what occurred when she presented herself at her front door with a shotgun and pointed it at one or more officers."
Police, told that a census worker faced a firearm when going to the home in the upscale Mariner Loop neighborhood earlier in the evening of May 20, 2010, shot and killed Roger-Vasselin, 67. Police said she came to the front door nude and with a shotgun, ignored orders to release the weapon, advanced on officers and continued to point the shotgun at them in a threatening manner.
Attorney Phillip Cooke of Yuba City, who is representing the sons of Roger-Vasselin in the civil lawsuit filed in federal court against the city, said that "We think the police started and escalated the situation."
Police were told about Roger-Vasselin's alcohol use that night, Cooke said, but "there was no attempt to contact anybody in the residence before they positioned themselves with weapons."
Roger-Vasselin went to her front door unaware that police were present, Cooke said.
"It was dark on the doorstep," the attorney said. "I don't think, under the circumstances, that she even knew these people were police."
The police's expert witness "does not have all the facts," Cooke said.
Deutsch in the report filed Dec. 14 in federal court in Sacramento said Roger-Vasselin's depression was worsened by issues including the foreclosure of her home.
The doctor also said he reviewed various recorded visits and phone calls made from the jail involving Roger-Vasselin's 51-year-old boyfriend Lionel Craig Patterson, who was charged with misdemeanor assault on a police officer.
Patterson, during a conversation with his mother, said he had a handgun because Roger-Vasselin wanted him "to go the door late at night with a handgun. She is crazy," the report recounts his saying.
Patterson's mother asked him what was the matter with Roger-Vasselin, the report continues.
"I don't know, Mommy. She is depressed. She is stressed," Patterson answered.
A June 2010 report by the Sutter County District Attorney's Office on the shooting said Roger-Vasselin had a high level of alcohol and anti-depressant drugs in her system, was facing foreclosure and had spoken of suicide.
After she was killed, her fiancé Patterson had said, "That's what she wanted," read the report prepared by Sutter County District Attorney Carl Adams. The report concluded that Yuba City police officers acted legally and justifiably in the deadly confrontation.
"While the death of Ms. Roger-Vasselin is very sad, it is clear that all the officers tried to avoid that outcome," Adams had said.
Matthew Biscotti, a son of Roger-Vasselin had disputed the report. He said his mother was a devout Catholic who would never consider suicide and that she was going through a loan modification rather than the foreclosure. Biscotti also said Patterson had not stated "That's what she wanted" after Roger-Vasselin was fatally shot.