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On July 31, 2007, 46 year old California Highway Patrol Officer Douglas Scott Russell was struck and killed while deploying spike strips in an attempt to stop defendant, David Charles Zanon, who was involved in a high speed pursuit on Highway 50.
The pursuit began after Rancho Cordova police were dispatched for a welfare check of a person in a brown, four-door sedan parked on Horn Road in Rancho Cordova. As officers approached, Zanon sped off, tossing stolen items out of his vehicle. During
the pursuit, Zanon intentionally swerved at an oncoming Rancho Cordova Police patrol vehicle being driven by Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Schumaker. As the pursuit approached El Dorado Hills Boulevard on Highway 50, Zanon intentionally swerved at CHP Officer Kenneweg,
who was forced to run up an embankment to avoid being struck by defendant’s vehicle.
Officer Russell was deploying a spike strip on Highway 50 just past the Ponderosa Road exit when the defendant intentionally accelerated and swerved into him, striking Officer Russell in the center median. Officer Russell was airlifted to the UC Davis Medical Center
where he succumbed to his injuries.
After striking Officer Russell, defendant sped away until officers successfully “pit maneuvered” his vehicle. A pit maneuver involves pursuing officers striking the rear quarter panel of a vehicle in order to bring the car to a stop. Defendant’s vehicle came to a stop on Missouri Flat Road, where Zanon was taken into
custody by Rancho Cordova Police Officers.
After a trial prosecuted by District Attorney Vern Pierson and Deputy District Attorneys Joe Alexander and Jamie Pesce, Zanon was convicted of all charges and special allegations, including first degree murder of a police officer and attempted murder of a police officer, in
2010 and sentenced to death.
Officer Russell, a 22-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol, worked out of the Placerville office. Officer Russell is survived by his wife, Lynn Russell, and his mother.
On the solemn anniversary of the death of Officer Russell, it is important to remember all of those members of law enforcement who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Law enforcement officers have been the subject of several targeted attacks in the
past months, including an ambush in Dallas that took the lives of five officers and injured 11 others and a shooting in Baton Rouge that left three officers dead and three more wounded. Just a few days ago in San Diego, a San Diego Police Department officer was murdered
and his partner remains hospitalized following a late-night shooting during a traffic stop. Sadly, law enforcement firearms fatalities spiked in 2016, jumping 78 percent from last year’s total, according to preliminary data released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
In reflecting on the tragic deaths of law enforcement, including the loss of Officer Russell, District Attorney Vern Pierson was reminded of a famous quote:
die never, though they sleep in dust:Their
courage nerves a thousand living men.”
--Minot J. Savage