The community of Rancho Cordova had experienced several armed robberies in early January. On January 20th, a fast food restaurant on Folsom Boulevard had been robbed by a gun toting suspect.
On January 21st, Sergeant Rick Deffner, 36, was commanding the elite Special Enforcement, Gold Team in an all day search in an attempt to locate the violent robbery suspect. At approximately 2:15 p.m., officers spotted the suspects car and gave chase.
The suspect crashed his car into a fence, ran from the vehicle while firing shots at the pursuing officers. He disappeared into the neighborhood. An intensive search began by officers, K-9, and helicopter. An eight-block perimeter was established and a house by house search continued until it was terminated because of darkness.
Several hours later a direct confrontation again occurred between the suspect and officers when he was seen hiding in a garage. He again fired at officers and fled to a public storage area near a large apartment complex. A perimeter was quickly established and the Gold Team was again called and assigned the responsibility to search within the controlled area. Sergeant Deffner realized that if the suspect was on the roof of the apartment complex, he would have a definite advantage over the officers below who where attempting to arrest him. Sergeant Deffner made the decision to search the roof with two of his team members. While on the roof the officers heard noises in a yard below. As Sergeant Deffner peered over the edge of the roof he was shot in the face by the suspect.
Sergeant Deffner died that night making the ultimate and final sacrifice for his community and fellow officers. As the suspect was again trying to escape he was shot and killed by officers.
Sergeant Rick Deffner was awarded the Medal of Valor, posthomously, for conspicious bravery above and beyond the call of duty. The gymnasium at the Sheriff’s Training Academy is dedicated and named for Sergeant Richard E. Deffner.
Sergeant Richard Deffner is buried at Mount Vernon Memorial Park on Greenback Lane.