The family of the man shot by law enforcement officers called his death suicide by cop and criticized the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office for releasing information about his criminal past.
“Was it necessary for you to portray John as a monster who was out to hurt someone?” Katie Greer said in a statement released Monday. “Yes, John was a sex offender who served his time 14 years ago (when he did it) and never re-offended, never had another allegation or failed an inspection while on probation.”
Three deputies and one highway patrol officer fired at John James Corrigan Thursday night near Mountain Ranch after demanding several times that he put down the weapon he was holding. Authorities determined later the weapon was an air rifle.
Calaveras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio could not be reached for comment on Greer’s statement.
Greer, who described herself as having a daughter with Corrigan, said she was speaking for his parents as well who were too grief stricken to talk.
She said she did not excuse Corrigan’s actions and apologized to officers for him putting them in a frightening position.
“I cannot even imagine what you went and are going through. And your families. I would like to commend you for doing your job, as I respect your position and doing what you were trained to do in that situation.”
But she said Corrigan had threatened and attempted to kill himself several times before.
“He was extremely depressed,” she said. “And yes, I said obvious suicide by cop because it was an airsoft gun, according to your press release.”
She said in a phone interview that Corrigan had the officers do what he could not do himself.
She said if he intended to hurt someone he would have taken one of the real guns he had locked up in his house, which was down the street from where he confronted police.
She also said the Sheriff’s Office’s statement about a rape charge was untrue. A rape charge was dropped and he was charged and convicted of lewd and lascivious acts.
The Sheriff’s Office news release said, “ John Corrigan has arrests and a criminal history extending from Southern California up into the Central Valley of California. John Corrigan has previous arrests for 261 PC Rape, 11550 H&S Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance, 23152 VC DUI and 415 PC Disturbing the Peace. As noted above, Mr. Corrigan was also convicted of 288 PC Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Child Under 14 years of age in 2004.
On Thursday, at about 9:45 p.m., emergency dispatchers received a call that a man with a weapon that looked like an AR-15 was in the roadway on Mountain Ranch Road. A witness told The Union Democrat he could hear the man but not see him because it was dark. The man was incoherent and cars were honking and going around him
When deputies and officers from the California Highway Patrol arrived, they told the man to put down the weapon multiple times. The officers open fire when the man started walking toward a house, the witness said.
Greer said she has lived in Amador and Calaveras counties for 17 years and enjoys the hospitable and friendly nature of the community.
“With that being said, I am truly heartbroken by the ugliness and hateful opinions I have read and worse yet my daughter has read by strangers, neighbors, community members, board members, her friends, family members and so on about her father. So the next time there is a situation like this and you want to post some mean or hurtful opinion when you don't know the story (or even the person) please stop yourself, and remember we are all intertwined in these small communities.”
She said Corrigan’s family deserves support and care.
“John was not a bad person he was a father, brother and son to a family who is grieving from another bad choice of his. He can't hear the words you speak but his family can,” she said.