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Wounded Officer Able to Answer Questions About Tragic Shootings

April 09, 1985|DAVID FREED | Times Staff Writer

San Diego police investigators questioned wounded patrolman Donovan J. Jacobs for the first time Monday, eight days after Jacobs was shot with his own revolver during a scuffle at a traffic stop that left patrolman Thomas E. Riggs dead and a civilian observer wounded.

Lying in his bed at Mercy Hospital, Jacobs, 28, spent about two hours describing the March 31 shootings, offering his explanation of what prompted them, according to police homicide Lt. Paul Ybarrondo.

But whether Jacobs helped clarify questions surrounding the shootings could not immediately be determined. Ybarrondo declined to discuss Jacobs' answers, saying only that a transcript of his statement, which was tape recorded, will be provided to the district attorney's office along with statements from other witnesses. There was no indication when the transcript would be made public.

Ybarrondo said investigators may speak again with Jacobs "to clarify some things, but for now we're satisfied" with the insights Jacobs offered.

Jacobs, who was shot in the neck, continues to recover, but reportedly remains in considerable pain.

Meanwhile, a representative of San Diego's NAACP chapter on Monday publicly urged "diligent patience" while the shooting incident is under review.

"At this time we are not affixing blame, guilt or innocence," said the Rev. Robert Ard, first vice president of the local NAACP chapter and president of the San Diego Black Leadership Council. "We are encouraging a thorough investigation into

every facet of this case and a full revelation of the findings to the community."

The incident occurred after Jacobs stopped a pickup truck with several black occupants. Riggs and civilian ride-along Sara Pina-Ruiz had been following close behind Jacobs in another patrol car and also stopped. A scuffle ensued between Jacobs and the truck's driver, Sagon Penn, 23, during which Penn allegedly wrested a .38-caliber revolver from Jacobs' holster and began firing.

Authorities have never explained why Jacobs ordered Penn's truck to stop.

"There are many questions to be answered and we encourage diligent patience on the part of all concerned," Ard said Monday. "A verdict must not be rendered through the media prior to a decision from a court of law. There are facts to be discovered and we believe this can best be done without an abundance of publicized speculations."

Penn, who voluntarily surrendered to police after the shootings, has pleaded innocent to one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder. He is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail at the San Diego County Jail.

Ard said that Penn's family is accepting contributions to the "Sagon Penn Legal Defense Fund." The fund is to be managed directly by Penn's family.

Ard noted that the local NAACP chapter already has received more than 50 pledges of financial support for Penn's defense.

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